Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Home for the Holidays

Moving in and of itself is a lot of work.  Moving the week before Christmas while you have bronchitis, well, that's just plain nuts!  Being sick the 2 weeks prior to the move led to us not being as prepared as we would have liked to have been, and the illness lingering on after the move has led to us not being as settled as I thought we would be by now, but hey, that's life, right?  And I must say, even though we're still somewhat in a state of chaos around here (surrounded by boxes, wondering where the heck we packed x, y, and z), we feel very much at home.  And it was so great to be here in our new home for Christmas!

One of the first things we unpacked was, of course, our Christmas tree and ornaments (I mean, we do have priorities...who cares about finding your pajamas or a hairbrush when you've got a Christmas tree to put up?!?).  Little G was so excited to put the tree up.  I had actually hoped to put up more Christmas decorations, but it just wasn't happening, so the tree was it for us this year. Oh, and stockings, of course!  I was excited to finally have a good place to hang the stockings.  No fireplace here, so no mantle, but there's a perfect little ledge by the columns between the living room and dining room.  So I picked up a couple of stocking hooks, which just happened to fit perfectly in the space.

I was also very excited to receive two new ornaments this year.  When I was little, every year, my grandmother would make ornaments for my sister and I and attach them to our packages.  Over the years most of them have migrated to me, so probably 90% of our ornaments are these handmade ones, my favorites being the ones made from felt. Well, this year, my mother-in-law made these two beautiful handmade felt matryoshka ornaments.  I was so delighted to receive them, and they look fantastic with all of the other handmade ornaments on our tree. 

Soon we will start packing up all the Christmas stuff, and start focusing on more pressing issues, like where to put our plates that are too big to fit in our shallow kitchen cabinets, and getting proper lamps for the rooms that have no light fixtures.  Now the fun begins!

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Little Touch of Christmas Decor

Moving in mid December is definitely a challenge for someone who loves to decorate for Christmas.  I wasn't about to drag out all my Christmas decorations with our move quickly approaching, but I couldn't stand to have nothing up.  Fortunately, as I was packing last week, I came across this little vintage Christmas tea towel.

This is one of my favorite Christmas decorations and has been in my family for many years.  It was embroidered by my grandmother, and I remember my parents putting it out every year when I was a child.  I've always loved the quiet little scene so intricately depicted on it.  I have been intending to frame it for quite some time now, so that I could more easily display it on my wall at Christmas time.  Last year  I left it out after Christmas, thinking that at some point during the year, I would get it done for this Christmas.  Then in typical me fashion, I got busy, set it aside, and forgot about it.  But when I uncovered it last week, I decided it was time to take a break from the packing, and get right to it!

I hadn't given a whole lot of thought to how I would frame it, but I've seen some things like this framed right in embroidery hoops and thought that might be a good option, especially since there were several stains on the non-embroidered parts.  And it just so happened that I had an embroidery hoop not yet packed up that was the right size.  Perfect!  I liked the contrast of the red edge of the towel, so I decided to paint the hoop red to keep the same look.  So here is our one and only Christmas decoration we have put up:

I think it came out quite nice!  It may not be much as far as decorating is concerned, but it is definitely special to me, and it's just enough of a touch of Christmas to tide me over until we move later this week.  Then we can get many more decorations out!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Boxes, Boxes, Everywhere!

Now that it is December, I can officially say that we are moving this month.  In just 2 weeks, as a matter of fact.  (Yippee!!)  So, we've been packing, and packing, and packing.  Packing seemed so much easier last time we did it, but 7+ years and 2 kids later, we have accumulated quite a lot!  Nearly every room in our house already has a stack of boxes that have been packed, sealed, and labeled, yet there is still lots more packing to do.

Aside from all the packing, things are moving along with the purchase of the house.  We had our appraisal this week, which went very well.  As I had mentioned before, there were a few things we thought might need to be fixed prior to closing for our FHA loan, however, the only thing our appraiser required that we do was remove a section of the deck that had no railings.  Pretty easy!  Well, I guess I should say easy for me, since it was hubby and our realtor who did all the work (thanks, guys!!).

So now we're just tying up loose ends, and continuing to prepare for the move.   And as we do, even though we're not moving to a deee-luxe apartment in the sky, I can't help but have the theme from The Jefferson's in my head.  When I searched for it on you tube, I found this video of two guys dancing along to it.  They look like they're having so much fun...makes me smile!  Hope it makes you smile too!  :)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Under Contract!!

Oh, happy day!  Our offer has been accepted and approved by the bank, so we are officially "under contract"!  (Hooray!!!)  And, thanks to the generosity of our families and impeccable timing, we were able to come up with the extra money that we will need.  I had a feeling things were going to fall into place with this house somehow.  We are super duper excited and can't wait to make this house our home.

So now it's just a matter of taking care of all of the details of the purchase process.  We had our inspection today which, though slightly overwhelming (such a lot of info to digest in a short amount of time), went well.  Overall, the house is in pretty good condition, especially considering the age.  Of course there are a few things that will need to be fixed, but nothing that we felt was too much to take on.  We are also going with an FHA loan, so a couple of things will likely need to be taken care of prior to closing, but we won't know for sure until the appraiser comes out to look at the house.

In the meantime, we can work on getting our financing squared away and locking in a rate.  Oh, and packing.  Lots and lots of packing!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Journey Continues...

A lot has happened since my last post.  First of all, that 1940 colonial (the runner-up) was gone from the market just a few days after we looked at it.  Over the past month we have looked at quite a few more houses which I haven't blogged about because, well, most of them weren't really anything to write home about.  There was one house that, though it didn't quite meet all of our needs, we both liked a lot.  We were tempted to make an offer on it, but after doing the calculations and figuring out what our monthly payment would be, we realized it was too much of a financial stretch for a house that wasn't really what we were looking for, so we decided against it.  But, we have finally received some updates on that 1925 Hip Roof Colonial (it's about time!).

About a week ago, our realtor checked in with their realtor, and we got the news that the other offer was still in limbo, but if it fell through, they would be pulling the house off the market for reasons that they were not able to discuss (hmmm...I wonder what that's all about??).  I was sorely disappointed, but thought to myself, 'well, at least I can move on'.  But with no other houses on the market that we wanted to look at, we were both starting to feel pretty discouraged about house hunting.  We were all set to take a little bit of a break, when our realtor called back yesterday with some new info for us (the plot thickens!).

It turns out that the other offer did fall through, and they are hoping to not have to pull it off the market, so, it appears as though we may get a shot at it (could it be true?!?).  The one catch (there's always a catch, isn't there?) is that we would have to come up with a bit more money up front than we originally thought.  Which poses a bit of a problem for us, as it's more than we currently have (drat!).  However, I am a firm believer that if something is meant to be, it will be.  So if this house is truly meant to be our new home (which I really feel it is), somehow, someway we will come up with the money.  It's true what they say...things like this have a way of working out when you least expect it.

So, I'm 99% sure that we will be making a new offer on this house tomorrow.  I know that this is just the start of the process, and we may run into snags along the way, but I can't help but feel excited about it. 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

1940 Colonial

I haven't posted anything here in awhile because, well, there hasn't really been anything new to post about!  Our house-hunting quest continues, but ever so slowly.  Still no word on the 1925 Hip Roof ColonialSigh.  It sure would be nice to at least know if the other offer on it was going to be accepted, but the bank seems to really be dragging their feet on it (you'd think they'd be eager to get the house sold, but apparently not).  So we're still waiting and hoping.

Fortunately, while we're waiting and hoping, we're starting to see some new houses pop up on the market that are a bit more appealing than what we had been seeing.  So at least now we're starting to find things that we actually want to go look at.  (Yay!)  One of which was this 1940 Colonial.

This house is definitely the best thing we've seen since the 1925 Hip
Roof Colonial, but it still doesn't quite compare.  However, it does meet our top priorities (good location and nice neighborhood, 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, and enough bigger than our current house that we would feel like we had more space), so for now, we're keeping it in mind...sort of a runner-up, if you will.  Let's take a look, shall we?

First off, the exterior paint isn't in very good shape (which isn't too big of a deal, I guess, since I don't particularly like the color anyway), and the roof may need some work.  But it does have a garage, which would certainly be nice.  And there are a couple of nice trees in the front yard (yay!).  Around back, there are more trees (yay!) and a nice rock wall along one side, but the yard is not very private at all (boo!).

Upon going inside, you quickly realize that the previous owners loved wall paper.  Oh, how they loved wall paper!  Stepping in the front door, the stairs are off to the right (wall paper), then straight ahead there's a strange little entryway to the kitchen (wood paneling), and off to the left is the living room.  I think perhaps this was the only room in the house without wall paper.  In

any case, the living room is quite nice...great hardwood floors, fireplace, and a nice archway into the dining room.

The dining room is lovely as well (though I could do without the wall paper), with hardwood floors, wainscoting, and a beautiful stained glass light fixture.  On the other side of the wall to the right is the kitchen, and I could see knocking out part of this wall to open up into the kitchen (perhaps creating a place to put those vintage 1950's chrome and formica bar stools I've been hanging onto?).

On to the kitchen.  The kitchen could use some updating, but nothing so intolerable that it couldn't be lived with for awhile.  There is, of course, wall paper, and ugly flooring, but overall the kitchen is a good size and there are some nice windows over the sink.

That tiny little doorway to the right of the refrigerator leads to a tiny little bathroom.  I would prefer if the bathroom were a little bigger, but it's better than no bathroom on the first floor (which is what we currently have).  The bathroom has an oh-so-lovely combo of wood paneling and wall paper, with that same ugly flooring that's in the kitchen (hooray!  a trifecta!).  So that's the first floor.  Let's head upstairs.

I was pleased that the stairs didn't seem to be as steep as our current stairs (but not so pleased with the ugly wall paper that lined the staircase and hallway), and that there were not one, but two(!) closets in the hallway.  Off to the right is a nice big bathroom with (you guessed it!) wall paper.  But overall, a decent bathroom, and probably twice the size of our current one.  I think there was even a linen closet in there too!

Across the hall is the first bedroom, then there are two more bedrooms down the hall from there (one on each side), each with its own flavor of wall paper, but the orange and green plaid was the standout:

Despite the wall paper, the bedrooms were nice with hardwood floors and good closets.  Also, through the closet of one of the bedrooms was a walk-up attic, which would be great for storage, or perhaps one day could be finished to expand our living space.

All in all, this house is sort of a mixed bag for us.  The pluses:  good location & neighborhood, enough rooms & space, layout was good, hardwood floors.  The minuses:  lack of privacy in backyard, exterior needs work, kitchen needs updating, and wall paper, wall paper, everywhere!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Waiting Continues...

Not much new to report on the house-hunting front.  We did look at one other 1940's cape, which, although was not quite as cramped as the first, was still not as spacious as we would like.  It did have 3 bedrooms and 2 baths, but the rooms were oddly configured, and the stairs had no banister or railing on one side (I can just see the kids sliding down and falling over the side...eeek!).  A couple of new houses have popped onto the market, but nothing that we're really interested in seeing.  So the waiting continues...

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

More houses, but still no home.

After looking at a few more houses, we are finding that there are not many out there right now that fit our needs.  There was a colonial which was ok, but it was near a busy intersection and also had a weird little studio apartment attached to it (complete with tenant that seemed to be equally as weird).  Then there was the cape in which the listing boasted a "backyard oasis" (the yard was nice, but I wouldn't quite call it an oasis).  As for the house, the kitchen was nice, but the bedrooms were very small and had no closets.  And the upstairs had such low ceilings that my very tall husband would have to hunch over to walk around.  I guess we can scratch that one off the list!

So we scoured the current listings online, trying to find some more houses to look at, but soon realized that there wasn't really anything else out there that we wanted to see.  They all seem to have some major flaw...too small, bad location, need to much work, etc, etc.  The more we try to look at other houses, the more we want that 1925 hip roof colonialSigh.  So I guess for now, we wait.  We wait to see what happens with that house (it could be a month or more before we know if they'll even be taking a look at our offer...ugh!).  And we wait to see if any new houses pop up on the market that would better suit our needs.  In the meantime, to you, 1925 hip roof colonial, I dedicate this song (melodramatic? me? well, ok, maybe just a little).

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Our Family

Most of the people reading this blog probably know our family pretty well.  But for those of you who don't know us quite as well, I thought I would do a few introductions.  So hop on over to the new "Our Family" page to read a little bit about us.

Cramped Cape

While we are waiting to see what happens with the 1925 hip roof colonial, we decided to continue looking at other houses.  You know, don't put all your eggs in one basket, and all that.  So the next house we looked at was a 1942 cape.  The location seemed good, but the houses in the neighborhood were packed in pretty close together.  As for the house, well, it followed the same pattern.

At the side door (which would probably be the most commonly used door since it was facing the driveway), there was a small enclosed area, kind of like a was configured something like this:

I'm not exactly sure what the point of this area would be other than to cause traffic jams with all those doors in such a small space (we have such areas in our current home).  This was also the only way to get to the backyard (which, by the way, was fenced but very small) would have to practically go out the front door of the mini-mudroom just to get to the back door!

Moving on....the side door opened into the kitchen, which needed some major updates (the appliances looked as though they'd been there since peg-rolled jeans and jelly bracelets were in style!).  The kitchen was also not quite big enough to fit a table.  There was a dining room, but you had to go through a small narrow hallway to get to it (I can only imagine the number of times I would have to go back and forth in this hallway to fetch more of this or that for the kids during thanks!).

The living room was nice enough, and there were hardwood floors throughout, which I do love, so that's one plus.  Upstairs, there was a nice bathroom and three small bedrooms with a variety of wall coverings.  The highlight of this house was probably the flocked red damask wallpaper in one of the bedrooms (sweeeet).  Sadly, I didn't get a picture of it, but it looked something like this.

All in all, the house felt small and cramped, and the layout was awkward.  Definitely not the house for us!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

1925 Hip Roof Colonial

Over the past year, we have looked at many houses.  Being an artist, I find that the visual appearance of things is very important to me, and this very much applies to houses.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind a house that needs some updating and improvement (I can easily look past garish wall paper or dated colors), but if I don’t like the overall style and structure of the house (raised ranch, anyone?), it’s difficult for me to even consider it.  So, while I do try to keep an open mind, I’ve learned that it’s probably not worth my time to look at houses that are not pleasing to my design sense and instead focus on looking at houses that are. 

Once I have found a house that looks appealing to me, there are a few top priorities to consider: location, size, number of bedrooms and bathrooms.  Then there are other details I look for: the general layout and flow of the house (is it open and smooth, or small and awkward?), the configuration of the rooms (will there be space for me to work on my creative endeavors, and my husband to work on his music?), the yard (is it fenced and private, or a uni-yard shared with the neighbors?).  And of course, there is always the consideration of price vs how much updating and work the house needs.

Enter 1925 hip roof colonial.  Swoon. There is so much that I love about this house.  First of all, it’s in a great location.  Check.  The house has a great flow and is big enough to accommodate our expanding family, as well as allow us space for all of our creative passions.  Check, and check. While the configuration of the deck is a little odd, the yard is nice (there are trees!   something that was missing from our first house) and has a fenced in area that would be great for the kids to play in.  Check.  There are two bathrooms   one on the first floor, and one (with a claw foot tub!) on the second.  Check.  It does need some updating, but it is in our price range.  Check!

So now that the top priorities are all met, let’s look at some of the details. We’ll start outside.  The yard and outside areas could definitely use some cleaning up, but there are some nice trees (did I mention we love trees?) and hedges around the border.  As for the house, there is a nice large front porch, complete with a bench swing.  


Now let’s go inside.  Going in the front door, you are greeted with a display of bold floral wallpaper lining the entryway, hall, and stairs.  Not my first choice for walls, but it’s in surprisingly good shape, and we could live with it for awhile.  Off to the right is a nice living room with hardwood floors, what appears to be original molding and trim, and a nice wide opening with columns into the dining room:

Hardwood floors continue through the dining room, which also has a built in china cabinet:

Off the dining room is, of course, the kitchen.  The kitchen could use some updating, but is a nice size:

Back behind the kitchen is a bathroom, laundry area (yay!), and an extra room that was added on which has a multitude of possibilities.  This room could be used as studio space for myself or my husband, it could be a playroom for the kids, a guest bedroom...or even a bedroom for one of the kids should we decide to have another baby in the future.  :)

Let’s head upstairs.  The lovely floral wall paper continues up the stairs and through the hallway on the second floor.  There are a couple of nice little stained glass windows, though, so that’s a plus!  

On the right side is the largest of the bedrooms, which has a little walk-in closet (nice!).  On the left is 2 smaller bedrooms.  The hardwood floors upstairs could definitely use a refinishing, but I don’t mind that.  The upstairs bathroom could use some design help (ugly wallpaper and tile), but it has a fabulous claw foot tub (love!):

So that’s the second floor.  And I would still love this house if that’s all there was to it, but there’s a little bonus:  a finished walk up attic space.  This is a fantastic feature of this house.  It’s a bit steep to get up there, but it’s nicely finished, and with windows on both ends and skylights, there’s a lot of natural light.  This room is like the icing on the cake:

So, long story short, I love this house and can really envision it being our family home for many years to come.  But unfortunately it’s a short sale which already has an offer (boo!).  So now we play the waiting game to see if the bank approves the other offer, or if we will get a shot at it.  Keep your fingers crossed for us!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Beginning Our Journey

About 7 years ago, my husband and I bought our first house.  We were excited to leave behind the world of renting apartments and live in a house of our own.  At the time, our 1000-square-foot, 2-bedroom house was what we could afford, and it suited our needs just fine.  But we always thought of this house a starter for us...we thought we would be here about 5 years, then move on.  And though in some ways we were definitely ready to move after 5 years, in other ways we were definitely not.  But now, with our expanding family, this house is getting a bit cramped, and we are very eager to make the move.  This time, we are thinking long term, and are not looking for just a house, but a home.

We actually started this quest a little over a year ago, but with the housing market slump, it has been difficult to sell our current house.  It can be quite discouraging and frustrating that it is taking longer than we anticipated.  I have to keep reminding myself to be patient, and that things will work out...somehow, they always do.  But at the same time, I’m not the type of person to just sit around and wait for things to happen.  We have to take action.

When we first put our house on the market, we were hopeful that it would sell and we could move before baby #2 arrived.  So we went ahead and started looking at houses.  After looking at many houses, we found one we liked a lot.  So, crossing our fingers, we made an offer that was contingent upon the sale of our house, only to be denied.  Sigh.  So we kept looking, found another house we liked, made an offer, and were denied again.  Double sigh.  In order to avoid further disappointment, we decided to hold off on looking at any more houses until we had some interest in our current house.

After many showings of our house, and zero offers, we were starting to feel like we were never going to get to move.  And with baby #2’s due date quickly approaching, we thought it was in our best interest to take our house off the market for awhile, and instead focus our attention on preparing for this little one’s arrival.  It’s a good thing we did this when we did, as baby decided she was ready to meet the world a bit earlier than expected!  

So, we been reconfigured our rooms, moved furniture around, and made space for our new little bundle of joy.  After taking a month or so to just relax and enjoy our new arrival, we were ready to continue our journey.  

Unfortunately the housing market seems to be in even more of a slump now, and we haven’t had any luck selling our current house.  But we’ve decided to not let that get in the way of us finding our new home...we’ll just have to think outside the box a bit about our current house.  We may try converting it to a 3-bedroom, we may have to drop the price more than we would like, or we may have to consider renting it out for awhile.  I’m not sure which option we will choose yet, but one thing is certain:  I am ready to move!

So I decided to start this little blog to document our quest to find a new house, and I plan to continue it as we transform this new “house” into our new “home”.  I hope that you enjoy reading about our journey.