Sunday, November 28, 2010

Loving Lexington

December will mark the twenty-third year that we have lived in lovely Lexington. We moved here by choice because we thought it was beautiful. That's right.....We sold the Dutch Colonial home we had built, uprooted our kids from school, quit my teaching job, and relocated my husband's office because we thought it was pretty. We didn't know anyone, nor did I have a job lined up. We simply thought it was pretty. Case closed.

Any regrets? Not one. We love it more now than we did then, and we still think it is beautiful and the absolute best place to raise a family.

After being here so long, it is easy to come up with my ten favorite things about Lexington.

1. Horses - not just horses but everything associated with them. I love the horse farms and cycling past them on a spring day when the foals are nursing. I love Keeneland, and the Three -Day Event, the Kentucky Horse Park, the Keeneland sales, the Derby and all of its festivities, and frankly, I love the way horses smell.

2. University of Kentucky - It's great to live in a town that offers top-quality NCAA Division 1 sports, world- reknown guest speakers, the opportunity to continue and upgrade your education, a great teaching hospital, a beautiful campus, and a world-class opera program.

3. The Arboretum - Started by a group of volunteers, the Arboretum is the best place to take a walk and get away from traffic while enjoying whatever is in bloom or in season at the time.

4. The Kentucky Theater - Walking into the Kentucky is like walking back in time, in a good way. The theater offers a great selection of independent and big-budget films, and the Summer Classics series is still going strong. And, you can get in the door for just $5.00!

5. The Opera House - Even though we might have to wait a few years after making their debuts on Broadway, popular plays and musicals come through here every year to mostly sold-out audiences.

6. The Carnegie Center - We moved here the year that the "new" public library opened on Main Street. But, without missing a beat, the former Carnegie Library became a learning center offering a full range of classes - from beginning reading to advanced French - and all at affordable prices so anyone who wants to take a class can do so.

7. July 4th - Does any town anywhere do the Fourth of July better than Lexington? From the pie baking contest, ice cream social, Philharmonic concert, parade, vendors, race, fireworks, and top country music recording artist concert, the city officials have it planned and orchestrated perfectly. Plus, all of the events are free.

8. Philharmonic Orchestra - We are very lucky in Lexington to have such a gifted orchestra and conductor who offer a variety of concerts both here and in outreaching areas while still operating in the black. Many orchestras around the nation are constantly fighting the bottom line, but not here.

9. Farmers' Market - Once again, this is an endeavor that was just getting started when we moved here. But, it is still going strong and has a new venue and a new shot of energy. The Farmers' Market offered an alternative to farmers who no longer could make a living while growing tobacco, and it offered a dependable venue to farmers who were already produce growers. And those of us who eat food benefit from it three times a week April to November.

10. The People - Last but certainly not least, one of my top ten favorite things about my town is the people. They are friendly, energetic, creative, artistic, athletic, empathetic, sympathic, hard-working, community-minded, forward-thinking, opinionated, polite, diverse, and wonderful.

Thank you Lexington for being all that we hoped you would be. You are our home.


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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Spinning - In More Ways Than One

I am a cyclist - a serious long-distance cyclist. So, I have spent many hours on my bike going many miles. This hobby has prepared me well for the spinning I am about to do.

First, I am headed to spinning class at the "Y" to get rid of the second helping of my mom's Thanksgiving dressing. And after that, I will start spinning another way. Since we are unofficially homeless, it is time to find a temporary place to live. Our house is under contract and by January 1 we need to be packed and out of here, my beautiful home.

Since the reason for this move is to relocate downtown, I am going to look at some apartments in the middle of the city. One unit is in a high-rise apartment building above the public library. That means we will not ease into city living but be smacked in the face by it everytime we go out. That might be a reality check for both of us.

Another is a free-standing apartment in the oldest and most historic part of downtown. Mr. Big wants to live temporarily in an apartment rather than a house. He feels there will be less time spent on outside chores and will give us move time to concentrate on buying and remodeling our yet to be found townhouse or condo.

Another apartment I will look at is located on the edge of the city about a stone's throw from some quaint two-lane country roads. It is a beautiful place that welcomes people like us who need to rent month to month while between homes. It will be the polar opposite of the two other spaces. It provides tennis courts, swimming pool, exercise room, game room, and enclosed parking spaces. The downside is that it is a long and traffic-laden commute to get anywhere.

We have a "wants" list for the apartment. We must have at least two bedrooms - one for sleeping and one for an office - , two baths would be nice, two enclosed parking spaces, and a nice expanse for lounging and entertaining. A third bedroom for storage would be a bonus because I have lots of things I really don't want to put in a storage unit for several months.

I plan to take photos, and maybe you can help me decide.
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Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Will our new place have a ledge for a window box like this one that I saw in France?

We have a contract!! Just three weeks after putting our house on the market, all of the i's have been dotted and all of the tees have been crossed. We're pending!! The negotiations have been going on for over a week, and I have been walking around with my fingers crossed, but all parties agreed this morning!!! Yippee!!!

Now it is time to start the dirty work. I need to locate boxes, find a temporary apartment where we will live while our new place is being remodeled, find a new place, and pack, edit out stuff, and pack some more. (Insert deep breath here).

When we made the decision to down-size, we decided to not buy anything until we had a contract on our current home. In this iffy market and economy, we didn't know how long it would take, and we didn't want to have the pressure of needing to sell. So, we will move into a temporary place on January 1 and live there while our new place is remodeled. We already know that we will put our personal stamp on the new place with new or updated baths, kitchen, paint, etc. Dealing with an architect and builder could take months.

Also, we will be in southeast Asia from mid-January to mid-February doing a building project (more on that in later post) and riding our bicycles from the capital of Laos to Hanoi, Vietnam (more on that in a later post, too). That will slow down the process.

But it is time now to focus on the holiday and spending some quality time with my family. We will start visiting townhouses this coming week-end. We have seen a few in the area where we want to live. This process is going to be a lot of fun.
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Monday, November 22, 2010

Give a Little and Get a Little

When we decided to downsize, we knew we would only be willing to give up the square footage we don't actually use now which is around 1,000 square feet.  That space will be coming from the library, turned music room, the dining room, and one bedroom.  We have also to decided to go more casual with our lifestyle.  We are going to give our formal dining room furniture and one set of bedroom furniture to our newly married daughter, sell the baby grand piano, and repurpose some other furniture.  What we don't use will be either donated to Goodwill, sold at a furniture consignment shop, or passed on to the newlyweds.

Based on the townhouses we have looked at, we will have a combined dining room/family room, a bigger basement, which we will finish for my husband's office, and three, rather than four bedrooms.  One of those bedrooms will be on the first floor which is a feature that we don't have now.The kitchen will still be roomy with a walk-in pantry.  It will be open to the entertaining area so I won't be sequestered when we have guests.  We will have one, instead of three fireplaces, and a walled-in courtyard will replace our lawn.  I told Mr. Big that I have to have dirt, and that eliminated all high-rise townhouses with balconies.

We know that whatever we buy will need to be remodeled and are looking forward to making those decorating and design selections that make me feel all giddy.


It's true what they say about staging a house to sell.  Whether you live in a castle or a cottage, your potential buyers' first impression  is so important.  You want them to be embraced when they walk in the door -  not by clutter, personal photos, and mementos, -  but by an inviting home they can see themselves living in.

We have worked with a redecorator a few times, and our home was in pretty good shape.  The OCD part of my personality doesn't like too much stuff in closets and drawers, so, that was all under control.  The redecorator, my friend Beth who is known as The Lone Rearranger, is a genius at seeing your things in a different way.  For instance, we had what is typically the eating area of our kitchen set up as a sitting/reading area for me, and the kitchen table was in the family room bay window overlooking the pond.  I love to use rooms in different ways which are not always expected. 

Before we listed our house, I called Beth for a staging session.  This girl hits the floor running, and with the help of my husband and son, our house was ready for the For Sale sign in less than two hours.  During that time, we eliminated  three chairs, two ottomans, a loveseat, a sofa, and all personal photos.  We changed up the sitting area in the kitchen by returning the table and chairs to their expected location, making it once again an eat-in kitchen.  We made the floor space of the bay window into a sitting area, and put the sofa at a better angle for enjoying both the television and fireplace.  We even tweaked one bedroom by putting the double bed on an angle which instantly made the room appear and feel larger.

When house-hunting, I prefer to see houses vacant, but most people can't visualize what a room will look like unless it is already furnished.  Now when people enter our home, the thinking has been done for them.  All they need to do is imagine their own furniture placed around the rooms instead of ours.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

We are taking the plunge!

We have been thinking about it for two years.  We have delayed the tough decision as long as possible, but we have decided it is time to go for it.  We are moving, but not just moving....We are downsizing from our 4,000 square feet, four bedroom, four bath home in the peaceful suburbs to a townhouse downtown.  We have done the dirty work,  the house is now on the market, and we are waiting............The For Sale sign has been up three weeks, and even though it is the worst time of the year to sell, we have had tons of traffic and even one offer.  We now know what it is like to live in a model home with everything shining and smelling good every time we walk out the door, and we will be glad when we can let a day go by here and there without making the bed!

They say life begins when the kids leave home, and the dog dies.  Well, unfortunately, our beloved greyhound died last spring, and the kids have been on their own for ten years plus.  We have heard many baby-boomers like us say they need to get rid of the stuff and get something smaller, and we agreed and did something about it.

I love decorating, and I love change.  Even though it is an emotional one, I look forward to this next step in our lives.  Want to see what we are leaving?  Here is the link:
This pond that we partially own was one of the factors that motivated us to buy our home 16 years ago.  Remember the movie "Funny Farm" with Chevy Chase and the way he hired the local townspeople to play certain roles when potential buyers were visiting his house?  Well, when we walked through the living room, a pair of geese floated past the windows just as I walked past the windows on the inside.  I chuckled because I could have sworn that some director somewhere yelled, "Release the geese", and as if on cue, they played their roles brilliantly.  We bought the house!
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