Kitchen Remodeling With Kids: Fun for the Whole Family

picture of living in a dining room, very very messy

Yikes.

When we moved into our house 5 years ago one of the major projects on our wish list was to completely remodel the kitchen. Everyone who owns a house has a wish list, right? The kitchen was a great size and had granite countertops, but besides that it needed a facelift. Knowing the cost of remodeling a kitchen we decided to push it down on the priority list until we could do it right. Well, that day finally came this past summer. We decided to hire a contractor, who is actually a friend of mine from Kindergarten, to help us do the major work and lay things out. This was somewhat hard for my husband because he is very handy and likes to do things himself, but he admitted that this was too large of a project, even for him. The compromise was that our contractor would do all of the major stuff and he would do some of the smaller jobs to help cut down on cost.

Our contractor had an architect draw up the plans, which was great because he helped us come up with some ideas that we hadn’t thought of. It always helps having an outside person look at things to give an alternate perspective. So after going back and forth and multiple drafts, we finally had a final plan in place. What we were told was going to be an 8 week project ended up being closer to 12 weeks, which I was prepared for because in the construction world you always need to anticipate things taking longer than promised. As much as we tried to prepare ourselves and to be as organized as we could, being without a kitchen for close to three months proved to be a major challenge and having two young children added to that stress.

Now that we had a final plan the next step was packing up the entire kitchen. I felt like we were moving although it was only one room. It’s amazing how you think you can do something quickly until you start doing it and realize what a daunting task it really is. I started with kitchen items that we don’t use very often such as wine/bar glasses, serving pieces and certain cookware items. I then continued down the priority list of frequently used items until eventually everything was packed. We turned our dining room into our makeshift kitchen. We put the pads on the dining room table, brought up storage shelves to use for a pantry and 6 foot tables for counter space. Fortunately we have a basement so what wasn’t going to be used in the dining room got packed in boxes and put in the basement. Otherwise we would have had to consider renting a storage unit for a few months. As inconvenient as it was it’s amazing how were able to be so functional even though we felt like we were living in disorganized chaos everyday!

We had a family vacation planned the last week of July and that is the week our contractor decided to start construction. Can we say stress trying to get packed for a week long vacation and getting all the last minute stuff packed up in the kitchen?! My husband wanted to do some of the demolition to save on labor. Our 4 year old son loved coming downstairs each morning to see what my husband had taken down the night before. The highlight for him was when our contractor came over the day before he started and marked stuff on the walls so his guys would know what to do. What else would a 4 year old love more than to do the same thing so with sharpie in hand he began writing his name and making drawings on the wall. As he was having a blast we made sure he knew he was only able to do this because the walls were coming down and never, ever is he allowed to draw on the walls again! I hope that sunk in his little head.

We came home from vacation and walked in the house that night and literally didn’t know what to do or where to go with all of our stuff. So this was going to be our “new normal” for the next 3 months….WOW! I had to remind myself constantly that it was all going to be worth it when it was finished! The next few months consisted of paper plates, plastic silverware, microwave cooking and lots and lots of dust! The dust and filth was one of the hardest parts. I finally just had to try and look past it. I took the approach of why clean because it wa just going to be filthy again the next day when the workers came back, right? Fortunately we were able to use the BBQ a lot since it was summer. We even got pretty creative with it. Have you ever boiled noodles on a BBQ pit before. Pretty resourceful idea my husband had! We even were able to eat out on our porch on days it wasn’t too hot which was nice to eat without having to be surround ourselves with the disorganization and dirt from the remodel.

Now that we are fully functional in our new, remodeled kitchen I can honestly say it was all worth it! There are of course still things that need to be done that my husband signed up to do, like a backsplash and finish touching up baseboards. We also still need to purchase some lighting and a new kitchen table. It’s only been since October that the kitchen was finished so why rush into anything, right?

It amazes me that we were able to do a complete kitchen remodel without putting anything in storage but if remodeling your kitchen is on your list of things to do you may want to look into putting everything in a storage unit to keep as much out of the way as possible. Have you ever done a remodel in your home? Share your story and what worked or didn’t work.

Cleaning Up the Playroom

Colorful storage shelvesAre there days when you feel like your house has been swallowed by toys? I’m sure this feeling is magnified by 100 this time of year with the abundance of toys your kids received during the holidays. Having a 4 ½ year old and almost 2 year old myself, I am living this feeling as we speak. All of their new toys have taken over our den just waiting to be organized and find their permanent home. Below are some tips that you may find helpful to reduce playroom clutter. Now I just need to practice what I preach!

Get your children involved
Have your children help you purge old toys that either no longer work or that they don’t play with anymore to make room for their new toys. An easy rule of thumb is for every new toy received, one has to go! You can then create piles of toys to keep and toys to be donated/thrown away. You can take this process one step further and use it as a lesson in charity to help children who are less fortunate. For the past couple of years at my son’s birthday I ask him to choose one of his Birthday gifts to give to a less fortunate boy/girl. Together we then go to donate that new toy to a local charity for underprivileged or sick kids. Being 4 he asks a lot of questions, but I think he feels good about himself afterwards. As my daughter gets older I plan to do the same thing with her as well.

Clean Up
After your children are finished playing have them help you clean up. Try making it into a game by singing a song or seeing who can put away the most toys the quickest. They will probably think it is fun to help and it is less threatening than ordering them to clean. This will give your child ownership over their toys and allow them to feel a sense of accomplishment by putting them away once they’re finished playing. This also avoids you having to start the clean-up process once the kids go to bed so now maybe you can relax and have some time for yourself. (I know that relaxing and having kids don’t usually go together in the same sentence!)

Purchase some simple organizational tools
An easy organizational solution is to get a few shelves, book cases, toy box or plastic bins. All of these storage units will help keep toys neat and organized. Plastic bins can fit a good amount of toys and can be stacked on top of one another to maximize space while a toy box can be filled quickly and easily and many times toys just get lost in them.

For items which may be older, too big or even if you’re unsure you want to donate, a self storage unit is a great, affordable option. Self storage is also an option for seasonal toys like bikes, wagons and snow gear. Since you may want to access your storage unit on a seasonal basis if not more often I highly recommend finding a facility within a reasonable distance from your home. To help simplify the process you can turn to onlineseflstoragedirectory for help in selecting the perfect storage facility that is just right for you.

Addordable Storage Deals in SJSU

San Jose State University is the founding campus of the California State University system located in San Jose, California. Founded in 1857 San Jose State is the oldest public university of higher education in the western United States. They were ranked 38 among regional universities in US News and World Report’s Best College edition. With a total enrollment in 2012 of 30,448, SJSU has one of most ethnically diverse student populations in the nation. Additionally, they have the highest foreign student enrollment of all masters degree programs in the United States with large Asian and Hispanic populations. Business, engineering and performing arts are the top three fields of study at SJSU.

Attending SJSU gives students the benefit of the beautiful California Bay Area and the educational opportunities of Silicon Valley. Campus is located in downtown San Jose so you have an urban campus environment. The mild year-round temperature is a bonus in attending SJSU allowing for many outdoor activities. In the middle of campus there is an outdoor Olympic-size swimming pool that is believed to be the largest in California. SJSU alumni have won an impressive 19 Olympic gold medals in swimming, track and field, judo and boxing.

Cost of living in the San Francisco Bay area is one of the highest in the country resulting in students needing to live in smaller apartments once they move out of campus housing. Sometimes this leads students on a hunt to find affordable storage deals close to SJSU for their extra items that won’t fit in their apartment. While there are many storage choices within a 5 mile radius of campus one will find that prices are consistent with the cost of living in San Jose. A 5’x5′ storage unit in 95192 will cost a little more than $60 per month and should be plenty of space to store enough items for a single room. The good news is some storage facilities offer introductory discounts to stay competitive.

Need to Store Krispy Kreme Donuts Near NC State?

North Carolina State or NC State is a public research university founded in 1887 and located in Raleigh, North Carolina. Together with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, NC State completes the Research Triangle which is home to many high-tech companies as well as university research facilities. NC State accepts about half of the number of students who apply although they are considered a more selective university. Many publications have rated NC State among the best colleges and universities. Princeton Review and US News and World Report ranked NC State 2nd and 5th respectively in 2006. US News and World Report also ranked them 6th on the same list in 2010.

Students participate in many charitable traditions at NC State. Shack-A-Thon was started in 1991 to fund Habitat for Humanity. Student organizations take turns living, sleeping and studying in the Brickyard as they collect money from people passing through which goes to fund building a house through Habitat for Humanity. If you like donuts you may want to challenge yourself in the Krispy Kreme Challenge. Students meet at the Memorial Bell Tower and run 2 miles to Krispy Kreme where you have to eat twelve donuts and then run back to Memorial Bell Tower in less than an hour. Sports Illustrated actually listed this as one of the “102 Things You Gotta Do Before You Graduate.” In 2011 students raised $100,000 for Children’s Hospital.

Surprisingly NC State is the home to many well known political and athletic figures. John Edwards, former U.S. Senator and two time presidential candidate attended NC State. Bill Cowher coached 15 years for the Pittsburgh Steelers including a Super Bowl title in 2006. Over 130 NC State alulmni have played for the NFL and 41 alumni have played for the NBA. If music is more your thing then you will probably remember Scotty McCreery who won American Idol in 2011 currently attends NC State.

35% of undergraduate students live on campus in one of the residence halls. Once they make the transition to off campus housing they may need to find a self storage facility near NC State to store some of their belongings. There are over ten locations within seven miles from campus where you can choose from different amenities including climate control, drive up access and alarmed security.  A 5’x5′ or 5’x10′ storage unit in 27695 can be rented for $40-$90 per month. Some storage facilities will offer discounts for your first few months so it worth inquiring about these savings.

Old Dominion Self Storage Options

Old Dominion University (ODU) or Old Dominion is a public research university in Norfolk, Virginia. Founded in 1930 as a division of the College of William and Mary, they didn’t obtain their university status until 1969. Despite it’s relatively young status, Old Dominion as rapidly grown to an enrollment of over 24,000 students.

Old Dominion offers one of nation’s largest online distance learning courses, accounting for one-third of student enrollment. There are 60 undergraduate programs offered through satellite, video streaming, two-way, teleconference and online delivery. They also have classes designed for military personnel on deployment can take classes as well. Additionally, they are the only university in the U.S. to offer MBA programs in Maritime, Transportation, and Port Logistics Management.

It also has the 6th largest ROTC program out of 262 programs nationwide.

After competing in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) the Old Dominion Monarchs became a member of Conference USA July 1, 2013. ODU is best known for in the sports world for their women’s basketball team, having won three national championships. Along with their success on the court the Lady Monarchs basketball program made history becoming the first to award an athletic scholarship to a woman in a varsity sport in the state of Virginia. Although the football program dates back prior to 1941, their was a hiatus until the program was reinstated in 2005 and began playing in 2009. Their first season’s record was 9-2 which is the best winning record for any first year collegiate football program.

The campus has experienced significant growth in the past decade beginning with the construction of the Ted Constant Convocation Center which is now home to the men’s and women’s basketball teams as well as concerts and other performances. The “Ted” as it is referred to by students, is the center of The University Village which consists of student apartments, restaurants and shops.

Once you are ready to research internship and job opportunities you may want to seek the help of The Career Management Center. They have an open door policy

 

 

You Need Storage Insurance!

Do I need insurance for my belongings in a storage unit?

The short answer to this question is yes! If your items are important enough to put in self storage aren’t they important enough to make sure they are insured in the occurrence of theft or a natural disaster? Now don’t go rush out and purchase storage insurance without doing your research first. Most homeowners and renters insurance policies will cover personal belongings in storage, but keep in mind that the average home owners policy only covers up to $20,000 or 10% of your policy coverage. If the value of your items exceed this amount or your policy doesn’t cover storing your belongings in storage then you will need to look into purchasing a supplemental rider policy.

How do I know the value of what I have stored?

Make sure you keep a log of items in your storage unit by writing them in a journal with a brief description and value and then follow-up with pictures or video of the what you have in storage. This may sound tedious and silly but you will be glad that you have it in the event you need to prove what you have stored in your unit. If you are storing valuable items that are sensitive to heat or the extreme cold then getting a climate controlled storage unit can help eliminate the potential risk of damage leading to an insurance claim.

Do storage facilities require that I insure my personal belongings?

With the increase in popularity of storage units some facilities require that your belongings in storage be insured. This may be in an effort to make and extra buck off of you or to make sure they are covered in the event of unforeseeable damage to your property. Either way you should ask this question upfront so that you aren’t caught off guard on move-in day and forced to purchase a policy from the storage facility. Again, do your research so you aren’t taken advantage of. If you aren’t sure, be on the safe side and bring proof of insurance with you when you move in.

Should I purchase an insurance policy through the storage facility?

While you may not want to purchase a separate insurance policy from your renters or home owners policy there are some advantages to doing this. The two biggest advantages are that they may be cheaper and have lower deductibles. On average an insurance policy through your storage facility will cost between $9 and $40 per month and carry a $100 deductible, which won’t drive up your home owners premiums if used.

The bottom line is that you need to determine what you are storing and based on your current insurance policy whether that is sufficient coverage or if you need to purchase a separate policy and if so what is the most cost effective way to insure your prized positions.

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Bearcat Storage Deals Near University of Cincinnati

The University of Cincinnati (UC) was founded 1819 and today has a total enrollment of 40,000 making it one of largest universities in the United States. You will find many nationally ranked degree programs at UC including aerospace engineering, anthropology, architecture, composition, cooperative education, criminal justice, design, environmental science, law, medicine, musical theater. On a more vain note Cincinnati was recognized as 13 of one of “The World’s Most Beautiful College Campuses” in 2010 by Forbes Magazine.

The co-operative education model originated at UC.The concept dates back to 1906 and was started by the Dean of the College of Engineering, Herman Schneider. Sudents alternate course work on campus and off campus at a host firm giving them relevant work experience before they graduate. Certain degree programs including the College of Engineering and Applied Science, along with Architecture and design programs require co-operative education experience to graduate. There are also programs in the College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business, and other colleges which offer optional co-op opportunities. Currently this system known as the “Cincinnati Plan” is the largest co-op program at a public university in the United States with more that 3000 participating students and over 1500 companies.

In addition to the co-operative education program, UC is know for many additional significant firsts. Some of which include the first oral polio vaccine, the first observations leading to the National Weather Service and the first antihistamine (Benadryl) and the first electronic organ. US President and Chief Justice William Howard Taft also attended UC. If you are an orange juice fan you will be interested to know that the first frozen orange juice made from concentrate was discovered at UC.

Prior to joining the Big East Conference in July 2005, UC was the founding member of Conference USA. Cincinnati won two back to back Division I men’s basketball championships in 1961 and 1962. Notable athlete alumni include baseball hall of famers Sandy Koufax and Miller Huggins; New York Yankees first baseman Kevin Youkilis; basketball hall of famers Oscar Robertson and Jack Twyman; Houston forward Omar Cummings; New York Yankees forward Kenyon Martin; Olympic gold medalist Mary Wineberg; and tennis great Tony Trabert. UC’s Athletic Director, Thomas introduced his vision for Bearcat Athletics called CATAPULT in May 2006. The plan focuses on three initiatives over the next five years;  win a Big East team championship in every sport, high-level academic achievement setting the bar for the general student population, and a comprehensive integration with the Cincinnati community through community service.

With having so many degree programs offering co-op education opportunities the need for affordable storage options near the University of Cincinnati may become necessary. You can find a 5’x5′ unit for about $60 per month and a larger 10’x10′ unit for about $100 per month within 5 miles of campus. There are more self storage options near 45221 that are 10-15 miles away from campus that can be rented for about $20 cheaper each month for each size.

 

 

Self Storage Available for Oregon State Beavers

Oregon State University (OSU) was founded in 1868 and is located in Corvallis, Oregon. Along with Cornell, OSU is only one of two schools with the designation of being a land-grant, sea-grant, space-grant and sun-grant institution. OSU is nationally recognized for their programs in microbiology, nuclear engineering, ecology, forestry, public health, biochemisrty, zoology, oceanography, food science and pharmacy. Corvallis is considered a small community so there is a strong connection to the university.

If you love the outdoors you are just a few hours drive from many outdoor activities. Some of the many options include the Cascade Range along the beautiful coastline, large forests, the high desert and many rivers and lakes. As you can see there is something for everyone! Portland, Oregon’s largest city, is less than an hour and a half drive north of campus if you are craving more urban activities for a getaway.

If your’re an athlete looking to combine your athletic ability with a solid education you will definitely want to consider OSU. In 2007 STACK Magazine ranked OSU as a top 50 university in both academic and athletic opportunities. Oregon State’s tournament level golf course, Trysting Tree, is one of the Top 5 collegiate golf courses on the West Coast according to Golfweek magazine. Interestingly the name comes from a tree near Benton Hall where students would meet and start dating. Just a little fun fact if you are looking to make your golf game a little more romantic.

Most upperclassman live off campus so at some point during your college career at OSU you may need to find an affordable self storage facility near OSU. Whether you are participating in a research internship or you need a storage unit to store your belongings over the summer break there are storage options close to 97331 that will meet your needs. A 5’x5′ unit will hold about a dorm room’s worth of stuff and you can be rented for $45/month. Amenities include 24 hour and drive up access along with alarmed security. Most storage facilites offer discounts for your first months rent so make sure you ask about how you can save a little cash.

 

Where Rufus Sniffs out Affordable Storage Units Near Ohio University

Ohio University is a public research university located in Athens, Ohio. Founded in 1804, Ohio is the oldest university in the state of Ohio and the 9th oldest public university in the United States. Today its Athens campus enrolls over 21,000 students and offers over 250 undergraduate degrees. Ohio University has been recognized by The Chronicle of Higher Education as being one of the top producers of number of U.S. Fulbright Scholars. For four straight years in a row they have been ranked first in the state of Ohio for producing the highest number of Fulbright Scholars, putting them in elite company with Boston College, Princeton University and UCLA. Continue reading

Utah Storage? Yes, please!

Utah’s flagship university, The University of Utah or The U, is a public coeducational research university located in Salt Lake City. Established in 1850, Utah serves as the oldest university for higher education in the state being formed before Utah was given statehood. Prior to the 2002 Winter Olympics the campus received a major facelift as they served host to the Olympic Village as well as the Opening and Closing Ceremonies during the games. This extensive facelift resulted in great improvements to the Rice-Eccles Stadium, a light rail leading to downtown Salt Lake City, a new student center, additional student housing along with a campus hotel and conference center. Continue reading