Feels like home already

The past 12 weeks have been among the most liberating and transformative of my adult life — but among the busiest and most stressful too.

I was wistful back in September as I considered leaving the home Esteban and I had bought and rebuilt together. Half of me worried we would regret our decision; the other half worried we wouldn’t pull it off.

It’s one thing to sell your house of a quarter-century, after all … but another entirely to empty it and clean it and move out within one month.

IMG_6612 last lawn mow BLOG
Mowing the lawn for the last time

To make the process more manageable I broke it into weekly tasks.

Moving checklist 1810182 BLOG

Still, some of the tasks felt daunting: We had to find homes for the exercise equipment, donate the piano, store the paintings, and sell the Danish Modern sofas.

In the midst of all this shedding and packing of possessions, we were also hurtling through the on-again/off-again process of financing a condo, which was much more complicated than either of us expected.

And in the middle of that we had a trip to visit my family in Florida. It seemed like unfortunate timing as we were scrambling to shove our last few possessions into storage mere hours before our flight.

In hindsight, though, that week was a gift. It was wonderful to see my parents — and to reconnect with Esteban and nature too.

IMG_6977 Florida sunset BLOG

IMG_6699 Florida sunrise BLOG

IMG_6804 egret on beach BLOG

After a week of daily naps and twice-daily walks on the beach, Esteban and I dodged a tropical storm to fly home juuuust in time for the closing.

I’ll spare you the last-minute drama on the morning of the closing, or stories about the lovely apartment we rented with the cranky toddler and the creaky floors beneath us while we renovated our new home.

I’ll also spare you most of the false starts, with the exception of the mistake our installer made when he first laid our cork floor …

IMG_7417 cork floor BLOG

… and my awful, awful choice of color for the smaller bedroom. I’m not exaggerating when I describe the result as “a cave painted in dried blood.” We lost an entire weekend priming over it and repainting.

IMG_7432 painting BLOG

But all of that is ancient history now. On Tuesday I pulled our last few belongings out of our storage locker, and this weekend we’ll unpack the rest of our boxes.

IMG_7579 UHaul storage BLOG
Our storage facility reminded me of “The Shining.”

To my relief, I haven’t had a single pang of regret. And to my surprise, the new place already feels like home.

P1810304 holiday party BLOG
A sweet note from one of our neighbors, who apparently missed us at the holiday party

As I wrote almost 12 weeks ago, “Change is always hard, but sometimes it’s also good.”





  1. Yes new transitions and move and everything that goes along with a home is stressful but then you got your right warm inviting balance

    • Isn’t nice to be able to look back on something like this and say to yourself, “It was worth the work”? Thank you for stopping by, Robin.

    • Thank you, Tom! It *does* feel like an accomplishment, in hindsight. When I see you in a couple of weeks I’ll tell you about some of the interesting insights from the process — the biggest being that “home” is now a more fluid concept that has little to do with the structure in which we live.

    • I’ve thought of you often throughout this process Jim — and I’ve wondered how you’ve managed to keep your blog updated through it all. I expected it to be hard work, but I’m still in awe of how much *time* everything took. Hope you’re settling into your new home nicely too?

      • On top of moving, my wife is recovering from a work incurred injury as well as from being terminated from that job, as well as end-of-life issues with both of our sets of parents, as well as one of our kids having serious life challenges. So no, we are not settled in yet. It’s frustrating but frankly we have more pressing priorities. We work at it bit by bit and hope to have everything sorted by spring.

  2. Oh, this made me sigh and smile but also worries me deeply. My first worry at this moment is to be able to sell our beautiful and much loved home. Then, in a second time, we will have to decide where we can live (need a revenue, sadly! 🙂 ). Our house will be hard to sell as it is special with a lot of land around it – and actually was already wahayyy over our budget when we bought it….
    So, from me you get HUGE CONGRATULATIONS – I’m so glad for you that you managed to get it all done, I always feel that this kind of stress really sets one back, healthwise, and makes one feeling old and ‘used up’. As soon as the festive season is over, I shall start to attack MY cleaning up – I have some 1800-1900 books and some 1500 DVDs to either keep, sell, give away or just pack up…. We never had TV so there is kind of a lot of film watching on the computer going on. I’m a totally crazed reader and even this summer I’ve come back with 120+ books from England. On the other hand, my eye-sight is dismal and getting worse. I therefore won’t need to keep all my books, I certainly won’t have another chance to re-read them…. How attached I am to my books, it’s pityful.
    Heide, I admire you for your rigorous cleaning – congrats again – If I could, I would bring you a loaf of bread and a handful of salt – that’s what I always do when somebody gets into a new living quarter. Have a bite of a bread you like with a dash of sea salt on me, I shall think of you 🙂

    • Thank you for your lovely comment and kind wishes, Kiki … you’ve warmed my heart. Your trepidation about what to do with all those wonderful books and films is both palpable and understandable — because they do become like old friends over time, don’t they? I solved that problem in part by giving some of my books to friends, and donating others to the local library (with the logic that they will be nearby if I want to borrow them back). As for our DVDs: We removed them from their thick plastic cases and put them in paper sleeves, so that the collection that formerly covered an entire wall now fits in a single pull-out drawer. With your obvious creativity I’m sure you can find similar solutions! Your beautiful house is another matter, though. But when the time comes I’m hopeful you will be able to find someone who will love it and care for it as much as you do. My best to you, and thank you for the (virtual) bread and salt! 🙂 xx

      • 🙂 The book ‘problem’ is that we live in France and I have literally no English reading friends here. Most are in UK & USA….. Am thinking about putting an ad in a mag for expats!
        The paint story had me smile too. A LOOOOOONG time ago we rented an appartment which needed to be repainted. In Switzerland you have NO rights at all if you are not owner of your living quarters, some may not even hang up pictures…. So when we asked the owner of the house if we could choose the colour of the living room which was to be refreshed, we had to have him come twice and he examined the colour ‘example’, he first refused and greatly declared that NOBODY would ever want to live in a room with such an awful colour…. (very light, faded rose, very classy and discreet) -Although WE paid for it, we had to promise him in writing that should we leave, we would also pay for repainting it in a colour of his choice. Then, when we left, we had 10 ppl coming to view on one day and every single one exclaimed on How much they liked the colour of the walls…. 🙂
        I agree, I wouldn’t have liked your chosen ‘red’ either – but mistakes are there to be made and obviously you realised quickly enough that this just wouldn’t ‘do’. Good woman!

        • The story about your apartment in Switzerland sounds downright oppressive — although the rules in my new condo aren’t too far off, I suppose. But hats off to you for not only convincing the man to let you paint, but also on choosing such an obviously pleasing and classic color!

          But how is it that you have literally no English-reading friends nearby? Perhaps I should introduce you to a couple of mine? 🙂

          • I’m living just outside of Paris and as it happens, I’m Swiss with Swiss German as my first, (high) German as my second, French and English as my 3rd & 4th language but as I like to read all my authors in their original language, I’m hooked on English writers and thus my English reading friends are living in E spoken countries. IF you have friends living nearby my home, I should be happy to make offers. I always sold tons on the one day of ‘Vide Greniers’ but I can’t do those, as often that particular day (always a Sunday) I have something more important on…. But please do – I would be VERY happy to sell them (cheaply, very cheaply) to book lovers. I also treat my books as I treat friends, with love and reverence, so most are in very good condition. Every book ‘gotten rid of’ is like loosing a distant friend. Some I even bought twice, three times, gave copies to said E-spoken pals or bought later on new copies when I bought them first as ‘second hands’… Love stories galore!

          • I would never have guessed that English was your fourth language, Kiki … you write it beautifully. BRAVA! Well, I’ll put out the word to my English-speaking friends in Paris to see if anyone is in need of good reading material (though as I write this and imagine their tiny apartments I wonder whether I’ll get much response). As you say, though … those favorite books do contain love stories galore, don’t they?

          • 2nd part:

            I have even be thinking of the local library but maybe we’re a bit too close to Paris because when I spoke repeatedly to them on those broquante days they were less than hot. C’est un quartier aisé…. and not many here speak anything but French. Of course, would I go directly to the university and Plateau de Saclay, I probably might sell too but I am not yet there…..

          • Going to a university sounds like a fine idea! Although if university students in France are anything like those in the U.S. they are perpetually broke, sigh.

      • Heide,
        DVDs: That’s exactly how I sold them at the brocante…. Had to take them out of their plastic cases but for another reason. The first time I did the market, some DVDs got stolen, because the disks were in them. The 2nd time I was harassed by one man because of the note I attached to the large box saying something like ‘The cases are empty. You will get the discs when you’ve made your choice’. He said: But you weren’t cheated HERE…. (ah non?) I told him that where I came from it wasn’t necessary to put notes like this but sadly, that WAS the
        case here. And he gave me the evil doubtful look and then bought some 5 DVDs. My stall ‘neighbours’ were wildly amused and suggested that he might have been a thief, a theory I wouldn’t ever have suggested 😉

        • What an amusing story! I’m glad he bought five DVDs from you in spite of having given you that evil, doubtful look.

  3. It is good to hear that things have gone well. I am also glad to see you back at the keyboard, I have missed reading you here.

    Aren’t paint mistakes the worst? You employed the best reaction: just admit the mistake and repaint. Our method has been less successful: wait to see if we really hate it, then get used to it as hate turns to mere dislike – which is not enough of a motivator to repaint.

    • Thank you for your kind comment, JP — I’ve missed you too, and am eager to catch up with you!

      As for that paint mistake … well, I’ve used your method too of just living with a color in hopes it will eventually be less annoying. But my reaction to this red was so visceral (dare I say violent?) that I knew there was no hope. There’s something to be said for having a strong opinion sometimes, I guess.

  4. Now you can sit back and relax while the snow piles up, outside. No shoveling or salting for you! And those are some wonderful cloudscapes from Florida, for gosh sakes. Happy holidays to you and Esteban, Heide.

    • YES, dear Tyrannosaurus! We’ve already had one major storm, and it was bliss to simply watch the snow fall without worrying about having to rearrange it all later. Like everything in life there have been compromises of course, but so far I’ve gotta admit they’ve all been worth it. But … how about YOU? I hope you’ve been well and wish you and your lovelies a wonderful holiday too.

  5. It sounds like you had a wonderful adventure, proving you can endure anything and make it turn out great. To just keep going and stop for nature breaks are good reminders for everything in life. Thanks for sharing. And Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

    • I often find myself wishing I deserved even half the credit my blog-friends give me, Patti — but thank you just the same for your kind words! Nature breaks are indeed the best and most critical salves for whatever ails us, aren’t they …

      Merry Christmas to you and yours too, and happy and healthy 2018!

  6. I love this! I am SO happy it is beginning to feel like home! And also I am totally the same way! Why not make life more difficult by throwing in a gazillion things on TOP of something like moving;p I am glad it all came together and that Florida sunset was stunning! ❤

    • Why NOT make life more complicated and difficult? That’s my motto, too. HA HA! All joking aside, don’t you kind of surprise yourself sometimes in hindsight with your ability to manage tasks? At least that was the case over here when I looked over the long list of checked-off boxes. Thank you as always for stopping by and for being your cheery and encouraging self, K.M.

      • Bwahahaha right? Easy is boring;p and yes! Though usually after I wonder how I didn’t lose my mind in the first place and what the heck I was thinking. Lol. Awe anytime sweets! Thank you for the sweet words! I hope you guys have an amazing holiday!💗

    • Thank you so much, Fiona! I very much look forward to soon enjoying that most indulgent of all luxuries: time to read. 🙂 Hope you’ve been well — and thank you (as always) for stopping by.

  7. I love cork flooring – did it work in the end? We downsized from a huge Victorian leaky, cold draughty house to a small 1970supside-down one (very daring for us) and LOVE it! Getting rid of so many possessions was indeed liberating – I do feel for your Scandi sofas though… I wish we could have bought one! I hope you and Esteban both love your new abode and continue to feel the liberation – less cleaning, for one thing, means more time to think, write, talk. Be happy!

    • Yes, yes! I’m delighted to report that the cork floor did work in the end, and we love it too! And in hindsight I’m sorry I didn’t advertise those Scandi sofas here because I would have gladly given you one (if you didn’t mind driving to Minnesota, and if it fit in your trunk …). But they were both in rather rough shape — one was partially eaten by a puppy, the other’s upholstery was ripped by a vacuum-cleaner sales guy — so you probably wouldn’t have wanted them anyway. Your description of your new house is very intriguing, though. It sounds like your change of abode was even more drastic than ours … I hope you’re all settled in now, and adjusted to your new space?

      • Oh yes, we love it! The living rooms being upstairs means we can appreciate the pine, birch and holly trees around us (we’re surrounded by the ‘rough’ of a golf course which hides us from the passing golfers) and it’s so quick to warm up and easy to clean! All that clunky old furniture is not missed at all! Have a lovely Christmas in your new home. mostly.

    • You have such a wonderful way of saying things, Björn — and you’re absolutely right that change is best when it’s over. Ditto with my poor choice of color. 🙂

  8. Moving, buying and selling a home are all huge undertakings. You’ve managed it with aplomb. I have to admit to a bit of envy at your beautifully printed list. What exquisite printing you have. I’m so happy to hear that your new place is feeling like home. How sweet to find a heart-shaped note from a new neighbor. I hope you found a paint color to your liking. We have cork floors in a few rooms and find them quite comfortable. I hope you get yours just the way you want them.

    And the Shining…shiver. One of the scariest movies I’ve ever seen. Hugs, Heidebee

    • Oh, dear Alys … you warm my heart with your sweet words! But remember that blogging is like Pinterest, in that I’m sharing only the highlights (because no one wants to hear about my crying jag inside the closet). But whether I managed it with aplomb or not, most of it is in hindsight now — and we’re finally starting to enjoy “normal” weekends in which we get to take naps and watch movies and, yes, stroke our new cork floors lovingly, ha ha. I hope you’ve had some quiet “me” time too as the holidays approach. A big hug to you! xx

  9. Lovely post. I always find moving homes to be one of the most stressful things of all. It is kind of unsettling but once you feel lil sit is home again it is such a fabulous feeling. Glad you’ve made your home home! Happy holidays! Beautiful photos of Florida!

    • Someone told me recently that the three most stressful life events were divorce, death, and moving — though presumably death becomes significantly less stressful after you’ve died. 🙂 All joking aside, you know better than most how unsettling being out of your element can be … but how rewarding it can be, too. Thank you so much for stopping by, and for your kind words!

  10. A lot of that mirrors our own experiences when we moved from a house that had been ‘home’ for over 30years. It was a huge upheaval physically, mentally and emotionally. But we have never regretted it. Sometimes we have to trust our instincts to be right. So glad it worked out well for you.

    • I’m glad you haven’t regretted your big move either, Andy — and it seems your new home provides plenty of photographic inspiration and opportunity! I’m happy to say the same is true of mine.

  11. Love that storm picture! But it does look ominous ; p so glad you both escaped its unleashing. Home and moving are such big topics, and ones we can all relate to somehow in many stages of our lives. Thank you for sharing your feelings on the journey of change from one to another. Looking forward to seeing some before/after shots! Love those =)

    • I’m so sorry to report I didn’t shoot many “befores,” because it would have meant I wasn’t doing my share of the moving work. But I’ll try to cobble something together for you based on the photos our realtor shot before we bought the place. 🙂

      • “) Of course! The moving process takes so much, every time. I was thinking of before/after in any of the changes you make to the condo “) though maybe you won’t make many! Post what works ; p Love to see the newness!

  12. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger right? Moving is not for the weak. We did it too, twice in 5 years. Your schedule looked and sounded banana’s. I remember a long time friend and neighbour saying to me as I completed one project after another, “you’ll never move”. But I had made up my mind and was like, “out of my way mere mortals!” We ended up with our storage locker for 3 years as we looked for a house to buy. Good times, good times. I snorted at “cave painted in dried blood” LOL! I had a painter paint one wall in a guest room 3 times 😀 From too bright, then too light to just right. I think he was ready to smack me. LOL. Not really, nice polish guy, great painter and fast. He could do in one day what would take me weeks.

    • YOU HAD A STORAGE LOCKER FOR THREE YEARS?!! Wow. Well … thank you for that much-needed shot of perspective! I do hope the place you settled in after so long a wait is your perfect home so you never have to do that again. As for painting … it’s good to know we’re not the only ones with Goldilocks Syndrome (ever in search of the color that is juuuust right). Painting is one of those things that seems so simple at first, until you realize how much colors can change based on the light and the surroundings — and also how visceral a response you can have when it’s not quite right. Next time I’ll be smart like you and hire myself a painter (Polish, if possible). 🙂 xx

  13. Heide, I am so behind, desperately trying to catch up on all I have missed, but I am so happy to read that you are settling in, be it a few false starts. I too believe that ‘a change is as good as a holiday’ and that we encounter ‘new beginnings’. The good times are not only the ones we had but also now that we make as we move along into new adventures. I wish you and Esteban a new year filled with love and happiness and wonderful new beginnings filled with smiles, that you undoubtedly will bring to many a new neighbour and friend. Sending big hugs from afar. x

    • Thank you for your lovely words and wishes, dear Rochelle. May the year ahead bring you every happiness as well, and peace, and inspiration to continue seeing the world through your beautiful eyes and your equally beautiful heart. xx

  14. Sometimes we need a cathartic experience like this to reset our lives and focus. I’m sure you don’t regret it at all now, almost 2 years later. Lovely photos of that gorgeous sunset.

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