Saturday, July 23, 2016

DIY Rustic Shutters and Window Treatments

One of the first things you are going to need to do when you move into a new construction home is get blinds up, especially if you live in a community where the homes are close together like ours. This can be a big expense so budgeting for it before hand is important. We ordered ours from Lowes and also paid $99 more to get them professionally measured and installed. Since that caused an extra delay we temporarily used light filtering paper blinds which we highly recommend. They are quick, easy to install and durable. In fact we still have one hanging in our garage (we didn't want to spend the money on a blind just for the garage but we wanted something for privacy and to make the outside look uniform). If you don't have the extra money in your budget to purchase actual blinds these are a great thing to use in the mean time so you at least get your privacy, 
We ordered professional blinds for most of our windows but I really wanted something different and rustic looking for the windows that had ledges - the windows above the kitchen sink, the one in our mudroom, the one in our powder room, and the one above our soaking bath tub. I loved the idea of shutters but the ones I really wanted were pricey. So I started looking to Pinterest for some ideas. I found these and immediately fell in love. The only problem is Katie is not "crafty" and Marc doesn't have any wood-working skills to speak of. Luckily for me, my father is a very talented woodworker so with a little bit of enticing him with the chance to spend the week with his grandsons he agreed to make them for us.          
You can read Anne's full tutorial on how to make those on her blog I will say she must have been quite the bargain hunter because we were not able to make them quite that cheap. My dad bought 3/4" thick pine lumber and used a chop saw to cut it to the correct measurements of the windows. Since I wanted it to look rustic there was no need to sand it. He used basic white paint and applied it very thinly to let the grains of the wood show through so I could get that natural rustic look I was trying to achieve.  The only thing we have left to do is find some stained bronze knobs or handles for them.  I love that we can quickly close them for privacy at night. 
I plan to add a valance to the top of these using the
 same pattern fabric seen below
Now that those were installed the only windows left were the ones on my front door and the door that will lead out to our future deck. The front door really didn't need anything but I wanted to add something to make it stand out a little more. Again, I have absolutely no craftiness in me at all and that includes sewing (am I the only crunchy mom blogger out there that can't sew??). I can always envision what I want can come up wiht the creative ideas but when it comes to the actual "sewing" part it ends up disasterous.....and I've had multiple people try to teach me. My hands just refuse to listen to my brain. So this time mom came to the rescue.  
 I found the fabric (in case you were wondering people use upholstery fabric to make curtains all the time. That might be common knowledge to crafty moms but it was news to me). A good rule of thumb to figure out how much fabric to use is to measure the length and height of your window then add 1 inch to each side and then double that amount. Essential, you are going to sew those two pieces together (inside out) like you are making a pillow case so that you have the same print on the front as the back.  I then decided on burlap ribbon for the bow and attached the bow with burlap string. What I like about that is it allows us to easily untie the string at night for privacy with out undoing the entire bow.    

I won't even try to explain how my dear mother made these but I do know it entailed the use of a sewing machine. Maybe if this post gets a lot of interest I will talk her into opening up her own Etsy shop. :)  
My next step is to add burlap valances above the other blinds and then paint the walls so stay tuned!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Welcome to the Neighborhood - Free printable!

Since this is a neighborhood blog I thought I would post about some of the neighborly things we do.

We had new neighbors move in to the lot behind us and we wanted to welcome them so I designed this printable.
My plan was to attach it to bread or pizza dough mix to give as a gift (hence the use of the pun when I said "We're here if you knead us").  You could even go all out and do a pizza kit gift basket with the dough, pizza cutter, and pizza stone. The Pampered Chef has very cute personal pan pizza stones.  They also have pizza and bread dough mixes (they have gluten free as well).
I got the fonts and digital paper to design this at a great website called Hungry Jpeg and I highly recommend them. They have an amazing bundle going on right now so go grab it while you can!

Drive more traffic to your online store using performance based marketing.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Summertime in the PWC: Things to do with your kiddos that are FREE!....or cheap.

It's Summer time in Prince William County and I am ecstatic!  I LOVE summer (and no, it's not just because I'm a teacher). So since it is the first week of Summer (and I'm getting lots of questions about what moms can do with their tots around this area) I thought I would take this opportunity to write a post about local events and activities for children that are free!... (or cheap).

In my last post I talked a little bit about the future Marketplace. When we first visited Potomac Shores we were told that they planned to design the Marketplace similar to Stonebridge at Potomac Town Center. I had yet to visit it at that point but once I found out they had a Wegmans I was giddy like a school girl.  I still have my fingers crossed that the Marketplace will bring in a Whole Foods but in the meantime I will continue to shop at Wegmans (my only complaint against it is that I have to drive 8 miles down Jefferson Davis HWY to get to it but it is a lot better then when we lived in central PWC). However, Stonebridge at Potomac Town Center offers a ton of free events for families and kids of all ages. Every Wednesday at 10 AM they have children's entertainment at the fountain. They also show a family friendly "Movie Under the Stars" on Saturday nights and their concert summer series is every other Friday night. Please check here for a full list of all the events at Stonebridge PTC.

As much as I love Stonebridge the one thing it is missing is a Regal Cinemas (yep, add that to the list of things I want at the Marketplace).  Many Regal Cinemas offer summertime movies for just $1 every Tuesday and Wednesday at 10 AM. This year they are handing out "Summer Movie Express Passports" for the children to collect stamps each time they see a movie and if they collect 8 stamps they will get free admission on the 9th week.
For any mamas of children with sensory issues they also offer a program I love called "My Way Matinee" movies especially designed for children on the autism spectrum. This is such a great idea for those special kiddos. The only location near us that offers it is in Gainesville at the Virginia Gateway so a bit of a drive for us at Potomac Shores but I especially love that location because after the movie I take the kids to splash around in the fountains that are right outside in the middle of the Promenade (and in case anyone is reading this that is in charge of Potomac Shores , please add fountains kids can splash around in to the list of things that need to be part of our Marketplace when it arrives.).
 The Summer reading program for  PWC Library is also in full swing. I will admit, however, that I was pretty disappointed that they took away their coupon of the week this year and I think they need to work on bringing more age appropriate weekly challenges for the preschool age group but I still really like the other events they offer all summer long (but please bring back the coupon of the week next year!) Make sure you swing by and pick up their summer reading booklet that will have all the events that are going on this season and more information on the reading program. And by the way if you have a school age child that is enrolled in PWC school they receive 3 extra credit A's for doing the program (there is also a math packet that county has that we give extra credit for, too. If your child's teacher did not give this to you please let me know and I will be glad to get you a copy).

The Montclair branch is the closest library to Potomac Shores and it just opened in February so it is all new and shiny. It really is a great branch and we are so blessed to have it. The Chinn branch is also very nice and not too far away.
If you go to Chinn I highly recommend to go on a Thursday so you head next door to the Lake Ridge Chick Fil A for their activity of the week. I bet their aren't many moms out there who don't like Chick-fil-a and the owner of the Lake Ridge location has hired an event and activity planner. Every Thursday morning they offer child friendly activities including story hours, monthly crafts, and more. Check out this cute Father's Day card my oldest made there last month (they even provided a Chick-fil-a gift card for a free breakfast sandwich!).

The last thing I want to mention is something that is rather new to me. I had a friend invite me to one of her MOPS events a couple months ago (if you aren't familiar with MOPS it stands for "Mothers of PreSchoolers" and it is a wonderful group to get involved with and a great way to meet other mothers that live near you).  This particular one is run through First Baptist Church of Woodbridge and it is through them that I found out about their "School Daze" events that they offer all summer long. Some of the events include: water day, carnival day and a drive-in movie night. Please click here for a list of the events (all free!).

I would love to know what other events you enjoy that I may not know about, so please leave a comment!

Shore hope to see you around the neighborhood!

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Shores Club and Our Star Spangled Banner Event

The Grand Opening of the Shores Club and the Potomac Shores Star Spangled Banner event were this weekend, so it was pretty busy around the neighborhood. When we first arrived tables were set up for residents to pick up their beach bag of goodies that the HOA provided for us. It was a very nice touch.
The social committee was also there taking surveys to get a feel for what events, activities, and clubs we would want at the Social Barn. Some of my favorite ideas were cooking demonstrations, book clubs, marriage "camps"and yoga and aquatic fitness classes! 
The Locker Rooms and fitness barn look great!

One of the three pools at the Shores Club is a competition and lap pool. Potomac Shores plans on having a swim team starting next year. There is even an "amphitheater" viewing area for fans and family to sit and watch the swim meets. I have not heard if they will be offering swim lessons in addition to this but I really hope they do.

 After we enjoyed a couple hours by the pool it was time to get ready for the Star Spangled Banner Event. We saw this guy there!

To end the night our family went to the bluff - which is the site of the future Marketplace of Potomac Shores - to watch fireworks . Tim's Rivershore is right down the river and sets off fireworks several times during the summer each year. Sitting on the lawn of the bluff is the perfect spot to view the fireworks!  And once the VRE station is completed transportation will receive a major improvement in the area :-) By the way, I heard a rumor from a Ryan Homes employee that Whole Foods is the number one grocery store food chain they are hoping to bring to the Marketplace. EEEEEK. I would be one happy mama if that were to come true.

In our next post I will discuss the future Marketplace (Town Center) in more detail as well as talk about some funtastic events you can do all summer long right here in Prince William County, VA.

Shore hope to see you around the neighborhood!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Potomac Shores Living 2.0: Putting down roots

So it occurred to my wife and I that we had not written in our blog for quite some time. A quick log-in revealed our "bloggin" had been idle for almost one year since we first moved in. So we thought, what better time to update our readers out there, prospective homebuyers in Potomac Shores, of the latest and greatest developments in the neighborhood, since we built our house in June 2015.

First, we made it through the Winter of 2015. After some epic snowstorms, I was really glad I cleaned out the garage enough to fit both cars inside.

Then came the Spring. I don't have any pictures, but basically, it rained. Alot. At one point it rained for 15 straight days and shattered the previous record; it was approaching biblical proportions.

Okay, so I have one picture of our house this Spring..

Come the summer, the long-awaited Shores Club finally debuted. The rain was responsible for a modest delay. Here is a link to the Potomac Shores webpage! The Shores Club.

Here is a link to a great 3-D simulation video of the Shores Club: Shores Club 3D Simulation. It's about 5 mins long, but well worth watching!

One of our favorite features of our new community is the extensive system of hiking trails that weave their way throughout the different neighborhood sections. I am a member of the trails committee, an all-resident committee that was formed by the HOA to ensure that the trails are maintained in good working condition for the enjoyment of all the residents. Here are some pictures for more details:

Also, here is a highlight of some new information about the community that you may find interesting and helpful:

The Fitness Barn will open in late June and have state-of-the-art Matrix exercise equipment. Word is, no other private fitness center, gym, etc. in all of Northern VA has equipment quite like this! It will come equipped with:
  • personal trainers, 
  • virtual aerobic/fitness classes
  • a fitness-oriented childcare facility (pending the hiring of certified/licensed childcare staff and other logistics that still need to be worked out)

The Pool has a grand opening that is planned for June 25, 2016. They plan to have a Potomac Shores swim team staring next summer. Here are some other very cool things come soon to Potomac Shores:

  • Social Barn - opening in July (with a state-of-the-art kitchen for cooking demonstrations). 
  • Greenhouse and Community Gardens - opening in August
  • A Tot lot - the location is still under review. We were originally told it would be open by the end of the summer but I have a feeling that it will not be ready by then. The wireless telecom tower that may be built is affecting this and causing delays (I will write more about this tower in another post).
  • Fishing pier - it has received approval and they are now working on the site permits. This is something that has caused some confusion. I had asked someone at the greeting house just the other day if this was still on the table and her response was "it is already built. It is right by Tim's River Shore" Uh, no....that one has nothing to do with Potomac Shores and is in pretty bad shape. So I started to worry that it wasn't happening but then at our next HOA meeting it was confirmed that it is indeed happening, I had personally suggested that it have a gate for private access for Potomac Shore Residents, using our key card (the same card we got for the Shores club) so we have some exclusivity. This is something that concerns many residents. Why move to Potomac Shores if the surrounding neighborhoods can reap all the same benefits? (For example....the VRE, town center and new school will obviously be open to the public. We have no control over that nor do we want the burden of that resting squarely on our HOA's shoulders (and more importantly our fees) BUT we do want some things that are exclusive. Right now, the Shores club (pool, fitness barn, social barn, and community gardens) is exclusive to just us but the trails are open to the public. If you are a current resident please comment below and let your voice be heard on whether or not you think the fishing pier should be exclusive or open to the public. 

If you are a prospective future resident and have a question, please feel free to write it in the comments section below. If I don't know the answer, I will do my best to find it for you and post about it.