Some Coupon Links

Here are a few of the blogs that I am checking out on a regular basis. If you don’t want to do a lot of flyer reading, etc. then check out these websites daily (sometimes a few days). They will tell you specific deals. It’s a good place to start if the thought of all the flyers is overwhelming.

http://frugalchicliving.org/ - This gal lives in the Spokane area

http://www.frugallivingnw.com/ - I believe this is out of the Oregon area, but a lot applies to here

http://hip2save.com/ - More national, but lots of good info

http://hip2save.com/ - In the Western Washington area

I’ll also include these on the side. Hope it helps.

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Do you coupon?

My how the last week flew by! We had company in town most of the week and I had fun entertaining them. The girls finished up their play this last weekened (I do have pictures, tomorrow I may actually upload them to the computer!) and I delved into the art of coupon shopping.

The cousin who was staying with us is an amazing coupon shopper! Her house is a mini store in and of itself. I’ve heard lots of coupon stories, but it all seemed so overwhelming and like too much work. But, for some reason, she really inspired me. Truth be told, I still may find it a little overhwelming and too much work, but I thought I’d try it. Even my girls are excited about getting in on the action.

So, Sunday night, armed with Albertson’s double coupons, my cousin and I ventured out to save away!

Our first stop was Walgreen’s. I bought 6 Right Guard Deoderants, 3 kid’s Aquafresh, and a box of Triscuits for $3.08 and received and $2 register rewards, so that’s like spending $1.08 for all these items. I was SO EXCITED!! The additional exciting part of it was that my husband had told me that morning he needed deoderant and my daughter had told me she needed tooth paste.

We then headed towards Albertsons. There I spent about $50 on about $200 worth of items. Now, some of these weren’t immediate needs, but all were things that my family will enjoy. I got gum, some snacks, hot dogs, ice cream bars, S’more fixins, Snapple, BBQ sauce, and I can’t remember what else. My gum was all free :) . It seems we’re always buying a new pack of gum, so I was so happy.

I have now been compiling my coupons, trying to get them organized, reading blogs, etc. Truthfully, it’s still a little overwhelming and a lot of work. But, I decided I needed to just dive in and go. My cousin helped me with some hints and with LOTS of coupons.

I watched a video this morning that helped me. She said something that I am really trying to keep at the forefront of my mind while I do all of this: “It’s not how much you save, it’s how much you spend on items you need.” I don’t want to be saving a bunch of money on stuff we wouldn’t normally eat, only to still have to buy all the things we want/need. But, so far so good.

Do you have coupons? Do you have any tips for me? It’s a fun new adventure, we shall see how it goes.

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Preparing to Sell Your Home

It’s spring in Idaho and often that is associated with a great time for real estate. Are you thinking about putting your house on the market? The buyers are out there right now. This is the time to appreciate the true beauty of the northwest! So, what should you be doing if you are wanting to sell at this time of year?

The benefit to selling at this time of year is that there are generally more buyers out. The disadvantage is that there is a generally a higher inventory of houses for the buyers to choose from. This disadvantage can easily be overcome, and made into an advantage if you, as the seller, address two different issues. What are these, you ask? Well, let me tell you!

If you want to sell your house in a timely manner, before you put it in the market you need to take time to clean things up. Touch up paint in rooms, get your carpets cleaned, declutter and make it a little less personal and more appealing to the general public.

Here is a listing we currently have. See the this family room before. It is clean and neat. It isn’t even really cluttered, but it can remain personalized and still remove some distractions.

BEFORE:

AFTER:

How about the study?

BEFORE:

AFTER:

This time of year, one of the biggest areas to make sure has an extra special touch is the outside. What is your curb appeal? Does a potential buyer drive up to your house and think, “I can’t wait to look inside!” or do they think, “Well, it can’t get much worse.” Clean up your yard, add some flowers to the flower beds, do the weeding, make sure you don’t have a bunch of yard toys blocking a path to the front door. Make it look inviting! It doesn’t have to be fancy, it just has to be inviting!

Here’s a look at the back patio.

BEFORE:

It’s spring, don’t you want people to know they can use it?

AFTER:

If you have a lot of personal treasures, perhaps you should consider having someone come and give you a little objective help. Do you have a friend who has an eye for décor that’s willing to be honest? Ask them to come over for a bit and then be sure to thank them with some cookies! Or, there are home stagers in the area that will consult and give you ideas for a reasonable fee, and for a little more they will even do all the work for you!

It’s hard for a seller to do these things sometimes, because it starts to “feel” like the house is no longer your “home.” But, remember, this is what you want, right? You are wanting to sell and make a NEW HOUSE your NEW HOME. If you want a potential buyer to come in and buy your house, you want them to be able to imagine their things in your space, not be overwhelmed by your belongings.  You want a buyer to walk out and say, “That was the house with the spacious living room,” not “That was the house with all those pictures on the walls.” How can a buyer make it theirs?

Now that you’ve spent some time making it buyer ready, what next?

So, you’ve just sat down with your REALTOR and they have given you a market analysis of your property. You have discovered that there are currently 20 other homes listed in the price range that you were thinking. That’s a lot of competition! What do we do now?

The next step is pricing! You can go up against 20 other houses and win the price war, if you price the property to sell. Take a look at some of your competition (even if it is on paper). Be objective (I know -  you have THE BEST lot, with THE BEST features, and THE BEST floor plan!). Just because you appreciate many specific things about your property, these things are often not appreciated until one has lived in it and will not be seen by potential buyers walking through the first time. There has to be perceived value from the get go. You want them to remember it and come back and MAKE AN OFFER!

Your goal should be to be in the top three of those 20 properties. Sometimes this may mean pricing it a little lower than you originally thought. I know, it can be painful.  But, having a property on the market for months and months and months is painful (not to mention having to keep it spotless for months on end for that possible showing). And, in the end you chase the market and are always changing your price “just” too late. Price it to sell from the beginning and your selling process is much smoother.

The result… you get an offer and it’s closer to your asking price and you get to move on to your next housing venture.

So, if you want to sell, especially during the “busy season” your two take away tips: clean it up and price it right! (I know, shocking!)

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Christian Youth Theater

What have I been up to the last week, since I haven’t been doing much writing? Well, my oldest girls were in a play this weekend (and next weekend). They are both involved with Christian Youth Theater (CYT). You can find a link for this over to the right. They have both done several plays with this organization. It has not only given them confidence, but I think one of their favorite parts of CYT is the friendships that they have made. By the time a play is over, they are both a little sad, because they won’t be seeing their friends tomorrow.

This organization has been a real blessing to our family. It’s a 10 week program where they have weekly classes focusing on a particular theater area – drama, dance, voice, or technical. Then, you can audition for a play. They play rehearsals occur outside of the class time and happen over the 10 week period as well. At the end of ten weeks they put on a great performance over two weekends. My kids love it! We have been involved since the program began here in Coeur d’Alene in 2007. It’s been fun to see all the kids grow in skills and how the productions have grown in quality. They are great entertainment.

If you haven’t seen Tom Sawyer yet – at the Kroc Center, you should check it out. This is the last weekend! It’s fun you won’t want to miss out on. My husband, who does not enjoy theater as much as the rest of us, thought it was great!

The above pictures are my girls’ program pictures. I’ll have play pictures later this week.

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Planting in my Garden

Well, we have a good chunk of the garden started. Much of it is still inside, but on Sunday we got a lot of other things IN the garden. Now, I am anxiously awaiting little sprouts to show themselves. Soon, we should be seeing something SOON!!

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Kootenai County Housing Market Overview

What is happening locally? How are residential sales looking? Let’s take a look at numbers for the first four months of the year:

KOOTENAI COUNTY RESIDENTIAL SALES

2011
Homes Sold Year to Date

618

Average Days on Market

132

Median Sales Price

$153,000

Average Sales Price

$194,484

If you would be interested in finding out more information for a specific area, shoot me an email and I’d be happy to give you some specifics.

Otherwise, stay tuned for more posts in the future to help you in buying, selling, or investing in real estate here in northern Idaho.

The above statistics are from the Coeur d’Alene MLS.

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Nearing the end of the school year

As the end of the school year approaches, if you homeschool, do you find it as difficult as I do? I am so ready to be done! But, why? It’s crazy! You will probably laugh at me. It’s not because I’m ready for summer. It’s not because I’m ready for a break from school. I am ready for both of those things, it’s true. But, I’m ready for it to end, because…

I’m already planning for next year!

Yes, it’s true! I can’t concentrate on what we should be doing right now, because I’m too busy planning what I want to be doing next year. What science do we want to do? How am I going to accomplish that? Am I going to stay at co-op or am I going to just go at it on my own. Who else might want to collaborate on some subjects together? How can I improve their grammar skills? Which curriculum do I want to use next year? What math level are they going to be in? What do I need to purchase? What do I have on hand? What credits does my high school student need? What changes am I going to make? What am I going to keep for sure? It’s a sad state for my mind.

A couple weeks ago, I started thinking through how I might be able to get through ALL of school in one semester, so we could just do little bits here and there after Christmas. I find that I do great up until that time, but then vacation comes and activity levels pick up, and school – oh yea! I am supposed to be making sure they are learning.

OK, it’s not that bad, I promise! They are still doing school. They are all, especially, madly trying to finish up math. We have finished a couple subjects, so that has given them extra time to work on the loose ends. And, many of the activities in the fall are “school” related, just not as easy to check off the check list.

So, if you will excuse me, I need to go read up on how to improve reading comprehension? Ideas? Anyone? …

I’ll be back, soon.

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And here we have arrived at the end of the overview of me

Here we are again, continuing the long version of “my story” and we have arrived at “Hat #3.”

Besides being a wife and mom and homeschooling my three girls, I sell real estate.

For a long time I really had an interest in real estate. I majored in Finance at the University of Idaho and when choosing that major, the field of Real Estate was a career I considered when finished. I think part of my interest in the field was that my grandfather was a REALTOR and then an appraiser. It seemed to be something he really enjoyed and always had me curious. But, it was something on the back burner for a someday… Then, after my dad retired from a career as an Army officer, he also decided to opt for a career in real estate. Just before my husband and I got married, my parents relocated and retired to the Coeur d’Alene area (where they both grew up and where my grandfather also sold real estate). He began his second career and has been doing it ever since.

In 2005, my husband and I moved our family to the Coeur d’Alene area. It was long a dream for both of us to be here and things just fell into place for us to finally make this move possible. We loved the area, we could easily continue to homeschool our girls, and we were close to both of our families. After being here about a year, I started thinking about real estate again. I talked with my dad and I really wanted to work with him and learn from him, while he was still active. We knew it wouldn’t be ideal, but this seemed like a good time to jump in and begin the process. By fall of 2006 I had my license and was beginning to sell homes.

I love this area and I love helping people realize their real estate dreams. Helping someone purchase their first home gives my job purpose like not many other positions I’ve held in my life. Calling someone to tell them I have an offer on the property they are selling and they will be able to move to the next step in their real estate goals makes me feel like a kid in a candy shop. Searching for the “perfect” property and knowing I have just helped someone find theirs is like scoring 100 percent on a test that you studied and studied for.

I began my career just as our local market began to drop from a large real estate bubble spike the 2-3 years prior. I think this was actually a good time to start, because it has no where to go but up. If you have kept abreast of real estate at all, you know it hasn’t gone up YET, but chances are good that eventually it will, if history is any indicator. There are always positive aspects of the market for someone, so that is where I try to focus.

My hope, through this blog, is to bring you information regarding our local real estate market specifically, as well as some general real estate information. If you have any questions you’d like me to address on my blog, please feel free to let me know. If I don’t know the answer, I will find someone that does. Understanding the real estate market is beneficial to us all.

I’ll be writing again, soon! Thanks for stopping by!

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More about me – Hat #2

Hello again! Thanks for joining me! Sorry it’s taken me a bit to get back here. It seems when I’m thining of blogging, my husband thinks he should get some computer time. I guess it’s fair. It wasn’t that I didn’t have the time while he was at work. I just got distracted with other stuff. I shall move right on to “Hat #2.”

 Not only am I “Mom” to my three girls, but I am also their teacher. I homeschool all three of them. We are completing our 7th year of homeschooling. It has been a journey of ups and downs, but a journey that I do not regret. We did not start homeschooling right away. Honestly, as a young adult, I never knew ANYONE who was homeschooled. It was really a foreign concept to me. About the time my oldest was going to be starting kindergarten, we moved. I was moving to a place where I knew NO ONE and was going to have to put my little girl in a school where I knew NO ONE. I was scared. Another friend had been looking into homeschooling, so I began exploring. Despite my fears of putting my child in a school where I didn’t know anyone, my fear of my child growing up and being unable to read, and it being my fault, outweighed this fear. But, I kept on researching.

 Kindergarten went well for her. She was in a small Christian school and we liked it. However, we had moved slightly out of town, so there was quite a commute involved. We were in a smaller town and had heard many good things about the schools there, so we decided to give it a try. Let’s just say it wasn’t what we had hoped for and so the following year we put her (as well as our middle daughter) back into the Christian school. All this while, each year I seriously contemplated the homeschooling. I continued to do research and reading up on different email groups, forums, and websites. But, still my fear kept me from taking the leap. Finally, by the end of the school year, after doing a LOT of driving and helping in the school a couple days a week, we decided that I could probably save us some money by teaching them at home, teaching MY kids, and just taking the BIG LEAP.

So, we began… a third grader, a second grader, and a 3 year old.

I will in no way tell you that I was or am the perfect homeschooler. I am not. I am not good at keeping a strict schedule. I am not good at keeping my kids on task as well as I should. There are some days that I really wish they would just teach themselves, and I could just sit by and watch them learn (and do other projects). But, I will tell you that I have grown and learned as much as each of them has throughout this whole process – probably more!

This year we began the whole high school process! My oldest is finishing up her first her of high school. After reading, this was my biggest fear – could I teach HIGH SCHOOL? But, I have learned that there are so many resources and I have found a great support group of friends who are there when I have a question or concern that are helping me muddle my way through all of this. I have also learned that my girls are pretty forgiving and resilient, and that they are in fact learning, growing, and maturing to be beautiful young women.

(Here is a picture of the oldest 2.)

 I am so grateful I took the homeschooling leap! I am so grateful that I live in a state that really gives me so much freedom to teach my girls the way that I feel is best for them. I am grateful for the opportunity to mold and shape them into the women I believe God wants them to be, and not have them molded and shaped by peers who are not interested in my children’s long term lives.

 I know all homeschoolers have different reasons for homeschooling. And, I think that’s one of the great things about homeschooling. Not only is there a curriculum for every style, but there is a reason for every family. Above isn’t my only reason for homeschooling, at this point, but it was definitely a driving factor in the beginning. And, it is still at the top of my list today.

One of the purposes of this blog will be to share some of my ups and downs, some of the successes I have found that have helped me, as well as some of the things that I would really like a “do over” with. I will also try to share specifically about the area we live in, and the many benefits that are offered here in northern Idaho for those who really want to homeschool their children for one reason or another.

Well, I’m done with hat number 2 for today. (Gee, I can get awfully wordy!) So, stay tuned for hat number 3. I know you can hardly wait, can you?!

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HI! Welcome to my site/blog!

Hello, my name is Jilann and I am the blogger. And, I want you to read my blog.

(This picture is from a play that I did with my daughters about this time last year. The glasses are fake! I really don’t have to wear reading glasses – YET! But, true confession, I did just update my contact prescription, and it is a bi-focal contact. This way no one knows I need reading glasses.)

I have been a blogger in the past, but life got busy and I decided to take a break. So, I thought I would start afresh with a new place and a new look. I’m not sure starting over is the best option, but it is what I decided. New things are inspiring to me. I like change in this regard. It helps to motivate me. New place, new plan, new purpose.

 To tell you a little about myself…

 I wear three major hats in our family. “Hat #1” – I am wife/mother to my husband and three beautiful girls.

(Searching for the PERFECT Charlie Brown Christmas tree, last year.)

(I’m quite fond of him!)

Our home is what we call our little ranch. We live on 5 acres (which husband wishes was 500 acres). It is here that he pretends it’s more and we get to enjoy the fruits of his labor. There are days when my girls question whether or not they truly enjoy the fruits, but it is fruitful.

We have a hen house full of chickens – which are kind enough to supply us with lots of fresh eggs. Our newest chicken adventure is to see if we can hatch some eggs. Round 1 down and it didn’t go so well. No babies hatching. But, I am convinced, my husband will not let this stop him from trying again. He went on youtube and found out how to make a homemade incubator. I told him I heard we could possibly borrow one from a local 4H office, but he would not be deterred from making his own! So, back to the drawing board. He’ll do some figuring to try and determine why they may have not made it all the way to hatching, and we will try it again. Because…he doesn’t give up easily and that’s the kind of awesome man I married.

Besides chickens, we also have rabbits, sheep, and horses. As well as 2 dogs and a cat. I promise we do not eat horses, dogs, or cats, but the others is where the not enjoying part comes in for my girls. In truth, all 4 of us were a bit skeptical at first. But, we have all learned that rabbit does taste like chicken and lamb is really yummy (and even sheep makes decent “hamburger”).

Besides our animals, we are also in our third year of planting a garden. I told my husband, let’s start small. His idea of small was 30×40. This was my idea of HUGE. I will admit, I have since tried to figure out how we could make it bigger, but at first it was VERY OVERWHELMING. This year we are adding a small little area for herbs, so I have converted to wanting a bigger garden as well. Each year we have tried something new to see if we like it. This year we are trying eggplant. We shall see how it goes. I am also committed to being better at “putting up” more of our veggies this year. Summer events start happening and I get carried away.

With the start of our garden, I also ventured into the world of canning. I have learned to can green beans, tomatoes, pickles, dilly beans, salsa, spaghetti sauce, pickled beets, applesauce, apple pie filling, and raspberry jam. The apples were not from our orchard, but my awesome husband has started an orchard here for us. I am hoping that this year we will have some fruit from it – apples, cherries, peaches, pears – something from one of them will be YUMMY!

I will get more pictures as we go. I have not been so good at the picture taking lately, so this will help me keep updated better.

 Well, this is all longer than I expected, so I’m gonna stop here. Next post will be Hat #2.

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