Thursday, December 31, 2009

Bon Voyage 2009!

Here it is - the last day of 2009. I can't really say that I'll miss this year - it was not a stellar year as years go. Well, for me it was a pretty monumental year: I did buy a house - that was awesome - and I did ring in my 30th year of life in style, but a lot of people out there had a pretty sucky time of it. For those folks, I'm happy to see 2009 come to an end, and I have every hope in the world that 2010 will be better.

As an historian, I love New Year's. I love looking back on a year, or in this case an entire decade, and wondering about what events will be the lasting historical moments. We have no shortage of memorable moments to choose from in the last 10 years, and somehow I think this past decade might someday be viewed as the one that changed it all - its not often that those living through history realize it at the time, but I think we all realize that we're living in extraordinary times.

So, that's my philosophical moment for the day - now on to the fun part of New Year's Eve '09! I'm going to be spending my evening at a James Bond-themed party at a local pub. I'm going as Bond-girl Strawberry Fields - aka, the agent who was drowned in oil and left on Daniel Craig's bed in Quantam of Solace. I chose her mostly because her signature look consists of a trench coat and brown boots. This is a costume I can pull off without too much trouble, and I should be fairly comfortable for the evening!

I hope you all have a good time tonight - be safe, and I'll see you in 2010!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Pepper vs. The Little People

I'm the first to admit that my cat Pepper is a little, well, odd. She is extremely clutzy for a cat, and she has a habit of suddenly noticing things that have been right in front of her for weeks and taking a new dislike of them for no apparent reason. This morning was a prime example. We got back from our holiday vacation up in PA last night, and Bailey immediately curled up for a nap in his usual place. Pepper, however, started staring intently at the arrangement of Christmas caroling dolls displayed on top of my secretary desk in the living room. Within half an hour she was growling at them. And by bedtime she was pacing anxiously back and forth in front of them. These dolls have been up on top of the desk for nearly three weeks, and she'd never given them a second glance. This morning her paranoia reached a new level when she started attacking the desk by leaping from the back of the sofa towards the dolls. As I mentioned, she's clutzy, so she didn't make it to the top of the desk, but rather hit the front of it several times and slid down to the floor with her nails imbedded in the wood. The dolls and much of the pine were knocked down, and she seemed pleased with her work. I put everything back in place, and now she's started the whole process again. The picture is of her staring at the dolls from the sofa just a few minutes ago. Anyone wanna lay bets on how long it takes before she starts dive-bombing the dolls again??

The holidays can be stressful...

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Winter Wonderland

As promised, here are the pics from my walk in the Winter Wonderland that appeared overnight! I'd say we have about a foot of snow, and its still coming down. I had planned to walk all the way to the bridge over the river that separates my neighborhood from the downtown area, but I got to the point where I could see the bridge and quickly discovered that if I ventured any further I wouldn't be able to get back up the hill to my house, so I took a picture of two cars attempting to cross the bridge. One made it, and the other one turned around.

Its gorgeous outside, though!

Friday, December 18, 2009


So, I think its for real this time. Its not just a bunch of Southerners freaking out about the possibility of a little winter weather. I think we might get a real, honest-to-God snow storm tomorrow!!!! I cannot wait! I have nothing to do all day but bake cookies and watch the snow fall. Aaah, snow flakes, cookies and a Christmas tree. Does it get any better??

On another note, I just got back from the local hardware store, Earl's, where I went looking for a shovel and a bag of salt. I do have a driveway now, so I should have both of those items on hand. The neat thing I saw at Earl's was a huge stack of those old fashioned Flexible Flyer sleds. I love those things! I have one at home in Mom and Dad's basement somewhere. I'm sure Miss Bess recalls our many near misses careening down the hills of East Wash on my old trusty Flexible Flyer. Apparently today's parents don't have the same warm fuzzies for these sleds that I do - while standing in line at Earl's, the cashier took at least three phone calls from people asking if they had any sleds left. The cashier kept saying, "All we have are Flexible FLyers, and you probably don't want one of those." What?!?!? Why wouldn't you want one of those?? For any amount of snow over 6 inches, you don't just want a sled with metal runners, you NEED a sled with metal runners! Its a necessity! Otherwise your little saucer sled or plastic toboggan thing is just going to get bogged down and go nowhere. Every child born North of the Mason-Dixon line knows this. Geez, Southerners...

Anyway, I hope to have some beautiful pictures to post after the storm tomorrow - keep your fingers crossed that none of the pipes in my house bursts!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Beauty... in the eye of the beholder, or so the saying goes. Its funny how your idea of what is beautiful changes after you buy a house. Yes, I still love arranging knick-knacks and finding the perfect curtains for a room, but other things have caught my fancy more and more lately. This weekend, my dad and I braved the frigid temperatures in my attic and insulated the WHOLE DARN THING by ourselves - no professional help or anything. It was a long, laborious day, but just look at those photos! Beautiful, snowy-white, fluffy insulation rolled out as far as the eye can see. Gorgeous!

The shot of my dad and I (taken by my mother, who wisely decided not to venture into the attic, and instead finished my living room curtains which also look gorgeous) before we climbed up the rickety little ladder to the attic, however, is not so attractive. I included it because of the funny factor. Apparently, fiber glass insulation is one of the most annoying materials ever created - the little glass fibers stick to you, and your eyes and even your lungs! And if you sweat while using the stuff the fibers get into your pores and you have a horrible itch under your skin until the fibers disintegrate. Needless to say, I was terrified of this happening, so I bought respirator masks, safety goggles, and leather work gloves to keep us safe, and we wore our Gore-Tex raincoats to keep the fibers off our skin. Afterwards, we took ice cold showers to get the fibers off our skin before they could get into our pores. Yes, it was one fun day. But just look at those beautiful photos!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Tree is up!

It took three nights after work to accomplish it, but the 2009 Christmas Tree is up and decorated! Looks pretty good, too, if I do say so myself. I also set up my annual display of caroling dolls (I'm sure Miss Bess is happy to see them again!) and sprinkled some candles and pine around the house. I failed in my grand plan to have a big house-warming/holiday party, but it seemed a shame to have the house all decorated for the holidays and not have anyone see it, so last night I had the girls over for happy hour and tomorrow all of my family members who live in the general area are coming over for a little Christmas cheer. Unfortunately, in getting all of this decorating and entertaining done, I've completely neglected everything else, like, oh I don't know, maybe ALL OF MY XMAS SHOPPING! I now have one week to get all of my presents. The scary thing is I only know what I'm getting for 2 people. I can feel the panic setting in.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


IT'S CHRISTMAS TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yes indeedy, its my favorite time of year, and I've already got a steady stream of holiday tunes flowing through my, ahem, CD player (yes, I am still stuck in the 20th century, despite Phil and Elizabeth's best efforts in donating an iPod to the cause!).

I'm gearing up to go all-out in the new house with the decorating. Well, as all-out as you can go without any money and some residual packing boxes STILL acting as furniture. But, before I start going hog-wild with Christmas deco, I've promised myself that I will finish painting and unpacking my spare room. As you can see above, I've put up my first set of shelves (after which I smacked my head on the corner of one, and gave myself a goose egg the size of a baseball - fun!), painted one wall, and decided to go with the dark teal color on the trim. Unfortunately, as you can see in the second picture, I still have a long way to go to sort through the piles of crap that have been building up in that room. Bailey promises to help.

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Happy Turkey Day!

Just packing up to head out of town tomorrow morning for the big Thanksgiving event, and wanted to wish everyone who I won't see a very happy holiday! I'll be enjoying a big traditional meal with the ENTIRE fam up in the Pittsburgh area, and we might even have some snow flurries on Friday!

Ah, the holidays...

Friday, November 6, 2009


So, I just have to share - I had my first real homeowner appointment today: a meeting with an electrician about the laundry list of things I need done in the new house. The good news is that I actually kinda sounded like I knew something about electrical matters, and I don't think this guy tried to pull anything over on me. The bad news is that in order to have him do all the work, I have find some moolah somewhere. Hmmm. Why is everything so darn expensive???

However, when we were in my attic looking at my ancient ventilation fan that runs 24/7 for some reason, he gave me some free pointers on how to re-insulate my attic before snow flies! Did you know that when you roll out the pink blanket insulation, you should coat any exposed skin with baby powder so that the fiberglass threads don't stick? And then, when you finish you should jump in the shower and stand under cold water for a few minutes to make all of your pores close before the threads can get into your skin? I mean, these tips were free - he was just giving them away. Sadly, he is not giving away free dishwasher electrical hook-ups.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Free Candy!

Halloween by the stats:

Number of Trick-or-Treaters: 2
Number of hours I waited for the munchkins: 3
Pounds of candy that I still have: 3+
Pounds that I will gain because this candy is still in my house: not going there
Number of reggae/ska bands listened to: 1
Number of rum and cokes consumed: 3
Number of dirty old men at the bar ogling costumed girls: 2

Ah, what a night!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Ah, the last day of October. My blog posting has been pretty pitiful this month, so I thought I'd make one last effort to get something in before November. I do indeed have a jack-o-lantern for my front stoop that will be making its appearance this evening for the trick-or-treaters, and I did indeed take a picture of it last night to post, but alas once again blogspot is giving me problems with my photos. So, check back later for a look at Jack.

I'm honestly not sure what the turnout will be for trick-or-treating in my new neighborhood. I see lots of kids around, but I'm kind of on the fringe and so far my neighborhood has not been overly neighborly. But, I am prepared with several bags of candy to hand out, should the hoards show up!

So, that's Halloween '09 for me this year! Next year, my goal is to do something that involves a costume - I miss costumes! Which reminds me - Miss Bess, you need to FIX YOUR COMPUTER so that you can post some pics from that annual Halloween shindig!!!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

It's Not Easy Being Green

Bailey and Pepper take a break from the all-family painting marathon last weekend.

So, after an extended hiatus from this blog, during which time I was madly installing a new exhibit at the museum and attempting to get something - anything! - done in the house, I'm back with a little progress report. After literally three weeks of short bursts of painting, my living room walls are now officially covered in two coats of Enchanted Forest green, and I'm totally in love with the final result! My parents were in town last weekend to attend my exhibit opening, and while they were here they also installed my new bamboo blinds and and wrought iron drapery rods. I still have to hang the curtains, but its on my list for later on this weekend. Anyway, it feels so incredibly good to get something DONE! I was so inspired that I decided to forego a nap after the parents left to unpack some of my books and arrange them by color on my bookcase. Its an arrangement I saw in a magazine once upon a time and thought was very cool. I'm kinda loving the effect, but I think I need more books!

So, next on the list is to procure a pumpkin and get it carved this evening. My front stoop looks very naked right now and definitely needs some fall-ish decoration!

Friday, October 2, 2009

If I Don't Go Crazy...

Image Courtesy of - because my camera phone takes bad pictures.

Took a brief and much-needed break from all the craziness at the new house and at work yesterday to go to the U2 concert last night. It was my first U2 concert and it was pretty awesome! We had good seats and had a pretty nice view of the bizarre "360" stage that U2 is using for this tour. G says it looks like an octopus, I immediately compared it to a Flintstones dinosaur. I heart U2!
Now I have to mow my lawn. Ugh.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Guess What I'm Doing Right Now!

Right this very minute. Go ahead - guess! Its something that I haven't been able to do for 5 years. I AM DOING LAUNDRY IN MY OWN HOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yes, that's right - my new washer/dryer was FINALLY installed this morning! It took 4 separate attempts over the last two weeks for it to be delivered and (properly) installed, and truth be told I'm still missing a piece, but it ACTUALLY WORKS!!!! Which means I can now spend my time doing other things while my laundry is going in the kitchen. I can unpack boxes. I can watch TV. I can paint a wall. I can make dinner. I can do whatever I want, because I can now do laundry in my own house whenever I want to. This might literally change my entire world. What am I going to do with an extra 5 hours every weekend?

I'm so unbelievably jazzed over this whole thing that I've almost completely forgiven Lowe's internet sales department for the "4 attempt" debacle (this washer/dryer was originally supposed to be up and running before I even moved into the new house). I was planning to write a scathing post about the evils of big box stores and their lack of customer service, but I've decided to just let it go. I have a washer/dryer. It works. I'm happy!

P.S. Check out those fire engine red walls in the photos - thanks to G and the parents for applying that paint!

P.P.S. For some reason Blogger is being stupid and not letting me post pictures. So, for now, just imagine gleaming white appliances in front of fire engine red walls!
P.P.P.S. As of 5:00 this evening, Blogger has decide to allow my photos once again. Geez...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Move Complete!

Just a quick post to say that I am officially moved into the new house, as of about 3:00pm yesterday (that's when we all collapsed from sheer exhaustion and frayed nerves!). There are pictures to come and stories to tell (oh, the stories to tell!) but for now, let me just say:

IT'S GREAT TO BE HOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

There's a Recession, right?

I'm not wrong about that am I? We are in the middle of a recession and unemployment is running rampant, right? And people are cutting back on luxury services, like pedicures and oh, I don't know, lawn care, right? I'm not just dreaming this bad economy up, am I? Because you wouldn't know from that last WEEK of phone calls I've been making desperately trying to find SOMEONE to mow my new lawn. I mean, I actually WANT to PAY someone to mow my lawn - and I'm even willing to pay quite well. But, I have called at least 12 different lawn care service companies listed on the BBB web-site, and NOT A SINGLE ONE has returned ANY of my phone calls. I have called multiple times. I have emailed. I have mentioned fliers and special coupons that these companies PUT IN MY MAILBOX. But nothing. I've got nothing. And my lawn is quickly turning into an amazonian jungle, and I've now got it in my head that my new neighbors already hate me for it. I'm sure that's why none of them have stopped by with a warm baked good to welcome me to the neighborhood. They're all meeting in the evenings and discussing the "new girl" who clearly doesn't believe in maintaining her property. I even thought about driving around my new neighborhood to see if I could find any enterprising teenage boys who'd like to make a few bucks over the weekend. Then I decided that might not endear me to the neighbors either. AAUUUGGHH!

You see, after emptying my bank account to pay for the closing on my house, I decided it would be more financially responsible of me to spend $30 - $60 to pay someone else to mow my lawn the one or two times its going to need it before real fall weather sets in, rather than spend $350 to buy my first lawn mower. I figure I could build up my funds a bit over the winter and then buy the mower. I'm not planning to use a service forever or anything - I'll join everyone else in cutting back on luxury services just as soon as I can. But right now I JUST WANT SOMEONE TO FREAKIN' CUT MY LAWN!!!!!!!!!!! Is that too much to ask?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

And so it Begins...

Well, its been a week since the big closing. And the pressure is starting to set in! I have just a little over a week until I move at this point, and I feel like I'm moving in slow motion, like I'm not accomplishing anything. It doesn't help that I came down with a cold this past Tuesday (that's like my third one this summer - what the heck??? does kharma have it in for me right now??), on the very day that I had set aside to take off from work and give the new house its first deep cleaning. Well, I did clean the bathroom. That's done at least!

G and Cathy did hang out at Lowe's with me for a better part of the day last Saturday, and with their help I was finally able to narrow down my paint color selection and purchase mass quantities of cleaning products. The photo above shows my "wall of decision" in the living room. Its going to be green, I know that. But which one??

With any luck I'll be back in shape by Saturday and I can hit the ground running at the house!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Its Finally Here...The Other Thing!

Yeah, so I'm back from the beach. And yeah it was great. Sand. Waves. Sun. Great!

But today is THE DAY!! At 4:00 this afternoon, I will close on my house. By 6:00 tonight I will be a HOMEOWNER!!! (imagine fireworks and Sousa march here).

I went to the bank to get a cashier's check for the closing costs this morning. That was a little scary - completely emptying your bank account and then holding a check for every cent you have in your hands? Yeah, scary. But, the bank teller was very sweet, and said "Honey, that's the best money you'll ever spend - don't worry." Thanks, Cindy.

Some friends are gathering at the new place this evening for a little bubbly to christen it, and then we're off to more thoroughly celebrate at our usual happy hour place. You know, because I don't have chairs yet. Or anything else.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Its Finally Here!

Well, folks, I'm off to Emerald Isle tomorrow morning, bright and early! I still have to pack, do laundry, wash dishes, bake a batch of cookies and locate my beach towel, but otherwise I'm all set. When I get back, it'll be time to go to closing on my house and start moving in, so lots of excitement on the horizon. Until then, I hope everyone has a great week!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Dog Days

So, if its possible, its even hotter here today than yesterday. There's an actual heat advisory. So, I rescued my buddy Sasha and brought her to work for the day. She's peed on the office carpet twice already, despite the fact that we've made 5 trips to the grassy area behind our building. Being an outdoor dog, I guess she just doesn't get this house training thing. Luckily, the office carpet is tefloned to the max and is covering a concret sub-floor, so clean-up was easy. Anyway, another co-worker also brought his dog in today, and Sasha and Joby are having a blast just roaming the hallway! At the moment, Sasha is taking a break while Joby goes out for a walk. Clearly, she's exhausted, as you can see above.

Sunday, August 9, 2009


I know all of my Southerner friends are probably sick and tired of hearing me complain about the heat, but alas I am a Yankee and I was NOT made for this kind of weather. It is currently a little after 11:00 in the morning, and according to its already 84 degrees outside. Now, granted, we have been blessed with a fairly bearable summer thus far, and today is really the first day that would qualify as "blistering" (we're on our way up to 98 degrees, with a heat index of 105, what with the lovely humidity), but I still feel like a sweaty, gooey mess AND I DO NOT LIKE IT. Its days like this when I really, truly miss Pittsburgh. When I see the weather map on TV and there's a beautiful shade of green over southwestern PA, and there's an angry crimson red color over this area of the country.

My landlord left for the beach this morning, leaving behind the much-ignored Sasha the dog (pictured above in happier, snowier times). I've already run outside about 5 times to check on her and make sure her water bowls are full. I also rubbed her head down with an ice cube a little while ago - she loved it! I guess me and Sasha are going to have a long week of heat-survival ahead of us. I just keep telling myself that in T-minus 6 days, I'll be on the beach enjoying a cool breeze and catching some waves. Until then I'll be staring at the clock watching each and every humid second tick by.
P.S. I just noticed that this is my 100th post! I really should have come up with something better for such a milestone, but this is all I got...

Friday, August 7, 2009

Back on the Road Again

Halleilujah!!! The parents came through and have agreed to bail my butt out in closing on my house!!! Yippeee!!! The champagne party on August 27th is back on! I will admit that it wasn't the greatest moment of my life, having to tell my parents that I wasn't going to be able to do this whole house buying thing on my own afterall, but I guess we all have to learn when to ask for help, right? Anyway, now that I'm over the awkward part, I'm mostly just relieved!

With all the craziness surrounding the house, I almost completely forgot that in just one short week I'll be headed off to vacation in Emerald Isle, NC! This year, the fam has rented a house with air conditioning. We learned our lesson last year. I can't wait!!! Normally, I would have spent several weeks prepping for vacation - collecting the various toiletries, bathing suits, flip flops, etc. that are necessary for the beach and trying to squeeze them into a tiny suitcase, attempting to get at least some semblance of a tan before going out in the blazing sun, whipping up batches of cookies as my contribution to the family's food supply for the week. Well, this year I've fallen completely behind schedule and now I only have a week to get myself beach-ready!

Oh well, its a fun thing to work towards...

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Screeching to a Grinding Halt

So, I've hit a roadblock on my way to homeownership. The last hurtle I had to overcome took place earlier this week - the appraisal. Normally, this step is really just a formality required by your lender to verify that you're not paying an outlandish sum of money for a worthless shack in a demilitarized zone. The assumption is that the seller had his house appraised prior to putting it on the market and he's not asking for too much more than its value. So, I had no worries about the appraisal - I completely forgot it was to take place on Monday. I forgot about it until Suzy called me Tuesday afternoon with some bad news.

Yeah, the house was appraised for a HUGE amount less than what I had agreed to pay for it. My lender immediately rejected my loan application, and I was left wondering what the hell just happened?? There are a few ways such a situation can be worked out: 1) the seller can just lower the price of the house to the appraised value, and we all continue on our merry way, 2) the seller can lower the price of the house, but refuse to pay any incentives like closing costs or inspection repairs, 3) the seller refuses to lower the price and I can either walk away or find enough money to make up the difference between my loan amount and the asking price. Well, #1 was extremely unlikely, and #3 would result in me walking away because I don't have that kind of money just sitting around. Luckily, on Wednesday morning the seller decided to go with #2 - good news and bad news. The overall cost of the house is now less (yay for lower mortgage payments and property taxes!) but I have to come up with the cash to cover the closing costs and repairs.

So, that's where we are now - looking for money. I have a feeling a really awkward call to the parents is in my near future...

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Loans and Inspections

Well, the road towards homeownership comtinues! Last week, I had two big hurtles to get through - the inspection, and my loan signing. I was far more worried about the inspection than the loan signing, but as it turned out it should have been the other way around! The inspection was done by a really nice guy named Bob whoexplained everything in extreme detail. The house is mostly in pretty good shape. The few bigger issues are going to be covered by the seller (well, I hope so - I found out for sure later this coming week), and the other stuff all seems to be things that I can learn to do myself (Bob seemed to think so, anyway). So, check off the inspection - done!

Then we moved on to the loan signing. It was originally scheduled for last Wednesday, but it was delayed due to a tornado warning in our area. That should have been my first clue that this was not going to be a fun experience. I mean, it all turned out okay in the end, but watching a seemingly endless stream of paperwork pass in front of you, most of which might as well be complete gibberish for all the sense it makes, showing exactly how much money you're going to be giving up - well its terrifying to say the least. There was a moment when I honestly thought I might have a panic attack. "Wait! Wait! I was wrong - there's no way I can afford a house! Can we just forget about this??" That's what I felt like saying. But, the last thing they do is show you all the money going in to the deal from the seller and from the FHA, and suddenly things look a lot better! I'm still pretty much committing myself to 30 years of donating most of my paycheck to the cause, but at least now I'm getting something out of it - unlike renting, where I got nothing out of it. That's what I keep telling myself anyway...

So, I now have my closing date: August 27th. By the end of that day I should have the keys to the house in my hand and I can pop some champagne in my new living room!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Boston, Part 2

I got a little sidetracked what with the whole "buying a house" thing, and I'm afriad I never did post the rest of my trip to Boston! So, here we go:

We went on a super-touristy, but really nice, swan boat ride in the Boston Public Gardens. It just so happened that several of the resident swans had recently had their little goslings, so there were lots of cute little guys swimming around. It was another great way to cool off during Boston's heat wave! Along the Freedom Trail, we stopped into a little cemetery - there seem to be tons of them all around Boston - and lo and behold it was the final resting place of militant revolutionary and famous brewer Samuel Adams. Although, as G discovered while reading the signage, he isn't actually buried under the marker pictured above. We're not entirely sure where he's buried (alas, the signage was a little vague) but we finally decided he was somewhere inside the brick wall lining the cemetery. Theresa explained that the bar across the street advertised itself as the only bar in the world where you can drink a Sam Adams while looking at his grave. I love Boston.

On Saturday, I went off to meet up with my cousin Andrew, who moved to Boston about a year ago. I took the ferry across Boston Harbor to get to Andrew's neighborhood in Charlestown - really great views! He took me to see Bunker Hill, and the monument there. We decided not to climb up the 24 flights of stairs to the top, but it was still a great view of the area. We also stopped into the oldest continuously operating tavern left in Boston for lunch - the Warren Tavern. We wound up the day with a really fantastic tour of the USS Constitution, more commonly known as "Old Ironsides". The ship is currently undergoing pretty major renovations, so the masts and the top deck aren't where they normally would be, but the young sailors who are assigned to the ship were really passionate about their ship and did a great job.

So, that's it! That evening Kristin and hosted a great BBQ at her house, and at 9:00 the next morning G and I were on the train headed south once again. It was a whirlwind trip, but so much fun! I think I finally satisfied my need for a good summer roadtrip...

Now, of course, I couldn't do an entire post without mentioning the new house - tomorrow is inspection day! Yikes! Everyone keep your fingers crossed that the inspector doesn't find something horrid...

Saturday, July 25, 2009

I Think I Bought a House!!

Cute little cubby behind the door in the spare bedroom.

Side door into the kitchen - the original door, too!

The front door that opens into the living room - gotta love those vertical blinds!

A bad photo of the really great yard - you can kinda see the little shed behind the crepe myrtle.

Suzy pointing at a dead shrub in front of the house.

Yes, you read that correctly! Its all happened extremely fast, but apparently its true! After much back and forth, I finally decided to put in an offer on House #1, the small bungalow with the great yard (geez, that sounds like House Hunters doesn't it?). So, Suzy and I did all the paperwork yesterday afternoon, and low and behold at 4:00, the seller verbally accepted my offer! This morning he made it official and signed off on the deal! So, assuming nothing terrible shows up during the inspection, I'll be a real homeowner by the end of August! WOOHOOO!!!!!

At the moment, I'm only slightly terrified. I'm not sure if that will get better or worse, but I think its safe to say that I'm going to be good for absolutely nothing for a few days. I'm so distracted that I threw an entire box of cereal in the trash this morning!

Anyway, I've posted a few (million) random photos of the house - enjoy!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Boston, Part 1

The "Birthplace" house - where JA was born.

Peacefield - the house JA bought after his presidency. It was owned by the Adams family up until the 1920's.

The coolest place in Boston Common!
Here's the first few of my pictures from Boston. After a long 12 hour train ride, on which we sat behind a family that liked to scream at their kids in Russian - I wish you had been there, Bess, you coulda translated for us! - we made our first tour stop at Adams National Historic Park, the home of John Adams. Very cool, although from a curatorial perspective they need some help! I truly appreciate the fact that G's college friends Theresa and Kristin were willing to hang in there through the history-geek bonanza that ensued as we explored all three houses on the park property - thanks ladies! The third photo above was taken on Boston Common. I took it to prove that for the two full days we were in Boston it was FREAKIN' HOT!!!!!!!!!! Apparently Boston has been suffering through a really cold, rainy summer thus far, except for the two days the Virginians were in town. In the photo, you can see all the kids of Boston desperately trying to cool off in this beautiful wading pool. I cooled my feet for a minute, too.
Tomorrow: swans, Bunker Hill and where exactly is Sam Adams buried??

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Latest Batch

So, it seems the real estate market picked up a bit around here while I was in Boston. Last night after work, Suzy and I went to look at three different houses, pictured above. All are excellent prospects! The first one, a 1957 rambler, is in very good shape, has a somewhat updated kitchen and is on a quiet, residential/commercial street. Its the lowest-priced of the three, but its also pretty small - two bedrooms/one bath. It has an awesome yard, though! The only real drawback is the second house shown above - only slightly more expensive but 3 times as large. Its a 1967 ranch with a sunroom, 3 bedrooms and a huge finished basement. If it weren't for this second house I wouldn't even be debating making an offer on the first one, but now I'm wondering - do I buy a tiny but cute house or a much larger but less attractive house? The larger house would have better resale value, but I've always thought buying a house based on resale value is kinda pointless - why should I buy a house based on what other people find appealing? I'm the one who has to live there! So, anyway I'm doing some serious debating back and forth between the two (it doesn't help that I might just be the most indecisive person in the world). The last house shown above is a little rambler that's ACTUALLY LOCATED DOWNTOWN and its priced UNDER $200,000!!!!!!!!!!! However, its still above my price range. Suzy says it is extremely unlikely that the buyer would accept what I can offer, but she's going to make a verbal offer in a few days, just on the off chance. I'm holding out hope that because it needs serious updates inside that everyone else will pass on it. A girl can hope, right? In the meantime, I have to choose between the more reality-based properties. Hmmm...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Back in Town...

Got back from Beantown last night after a LONG train ride! I think G and I survived okay! I have lots of stories and photos to share, but first I have to get myself settled back into life - I'm not even sure where my toothbrush is right now...So, stay tune - more to come!

P.S. Just heard on the news this morning that today is the 40th anniversary of the Apollo landing on the moon. Cool, huh? Hard to believe its been 40 years. And really, what HAVE we been doing since then??

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Allright, Allright!

So, its been a while. I realize that. After several subtle hints from friends wondering if I had cracked up after losing The House last month, I decided I better get something up on this blog before July disappears entirely! Really, the reason for my absence was just that nothing much has been going on. No new houses to look at, no summer happenings to report. I've just been going to work and watching really bad summer TV in the evenings. Well, I also squeezed in a quick 4th of July weekend with the fam in there - that was nice. But otherwise, same old, same old!

I do have something exciting coming up, though! This evening I'm leaving for a long weekend up in Boston with G! I'm really looking forward to it - lots of site-seeing and general touristy stuff. So, at some point next week I'll have fun stories and hopefully some decent photos to share. Until then, well, I guess that's it...

Monday, June 29, 2009

Just Not Meant To Be

I finally heard the results of my offer on The House today. And its not good news. To put it simply, my offer wasn't accepted and someone else will be occupying MY house in the very near future. My only consolation is that the winning offer was for $10,000 more than I could even afford, so even if I'd offered more than I did I wouldn't have gotten the house. At least I don't have to ask "what if?" for the next 20 years!

So, that's that. There's nothing I can do about it, and its time to move on. Who would have thought that you can get so invested in a house having only set foot in it once? I know what my mom will say (and probably G, too!) - it just wasn't meant to be...

Saturday, June 27, 2009

No Worries

Its good to know that with their shelter situation for the foreseeable future hanging in the balance Bailey and Pepper are remaining calm. As long as the new comfy down throw blanket comes with us, where ever it is we end up moving, they're cool. Well, the throw blanket and their gourmet kitty treats, of course...

Friday, June 26, 2009

Ticking Some More...

So, I just sent a kinda nasty email to my Realtor, and now I feel bad!. I'm STILL waiting to hear about my offer on The House, and I think the stress has finally gotten to me completely. I told Suzy that I wanted her to push the listing agent for an answer, whatever it is, before the close of business today so that if its "no" I can move on and start looking at houses again. I also intimated that maybe she needs to be a bit more on the ball and start acting on my behalf a bit more aggressively. I think these are all valid points, but now I'm feeling that maybe I overstepped my bounds - afterall, what do I know about the real estate game?? Nothing, really. Maybe banks that are trying to sell foreclosures just take FOREVER to say yes or no to offers, and I'm just being impatient. And maybe Suzy is trying to do everything she can, but there's only so much she CAN do.

In case you can't tell, I'm not the kind of person who likes confrontation!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Tick, tick, tick...

Believe it or not, I'm STILL waiting to hear whether or not my offer on The House was accepted. Its been a week now, and I'm not sure how much more I can take!! I did find out through Suzy that the listing agent for the house went on vacation last week, so that slowed the process down considerably. However, the posting for the house has been taken down from its web-site, so I can only assume that a decision has been made. Oh, the agony...

Wish I had more to report, buts that's it! Everyone keep you fingers crossed!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tension and Paperwork

Just got back from filling out the paperwork necessary to put in an offer on THE HOUSE! I'm completely jazzed and over-caffeinated (probably could have foregone my morning coffee - I was up at 5:00 this morning, just pacing) and I can just feel the tension! According to Suzy, one other buyer has put in an offer on the house, and of course we don't know how much it was for, so we had to talk strategy over lunch today. I finally decided I felt comfortable with adding 5% closing costs, plus $10,000 to the asking price. That still works out to $15,000 under my maximum budget, so I feel good about that. Now, its just a waiting game. Supposedly I'll know by close of business tomorrow!

So, in the meantime, let me tell you all about this house! Its a 1940 bungalow foreclosure that's in a small post-war housing development just on the outskirts of the downtown area. It has 3 full bedrooms and a "den" which could totally be another bedroom, but it doesn't have a closet, so legally it can't be listed as a bedroom. Whoever owned it previously obviously poured some serious money into updating important things, like appliances, electric, roof, etc. but also left all the original trims, doors, cabinetry, hardwood floors, etc. completely alone - so its the perfect combo! It also has a working fireplace and a sunroom addition on the back - obviously those will become Bailey and Pepper's domain. I think I knew it was the house for me when I discovered that there was already a cat-door cut into the door leading down to the full basement (with washer and dryer)! The house also sits on half an acre of yard, which is somewhat of a drawback - that's a whole lotta mowing and raking! But on the other hand, it means space for a great patio and garden. The only real issue I could find with the house is that its not actually downtown, which was my target locale. Its in a very quiet, somewhat rural, neighborhood that looks like its mostly populated with retirees and young families - not the greatest social scene, but I'm only 3.7 miles outside of the action, so I can live with it!

So, that's the deal. If you all could keep your fingers crossed, I would appreciate it!

Monday, June 15, 2009

And on the 7th Day...

... the clouds parted and rays from heaven shown down. And God decreed that M should have this house, and he saw that it was good.

Yes, that is how momentous this is - I have to get all biblic-y to describe the moment at which I saw this house yesterday. I LOVE it! It is THE house, and I am putting in an offer tomorrow.

Tune in later for more info on THE HOUSE!

Sunday, June 14, 2009


This week, I'm playing mama to Sasha, Bonnie, Mia and Smedley - in addition to my own Pepper and Bailey. It seems EVERYONE is on vacation this week, and apparently I'm the neighborhood go-to pet-sitter! Actually, its just my landlord (Sasha the dog and Bonnie the cat's owner) and a co-worker who lives nearby (Mia and Smedley, both cats).

I'm excited to have a week in which to spoil Sasha and Bonnie - they are decidedly un-spoiled by their owner. Last night, I gave Sasha a Kong (apparently THE toy of choice among dog-owners) stuffed with treats. Most dogs would play with a Kong, and work relentlessly to get the treats out of it. Sasha, however, is snuggling with it. Ever since I gave it to her, she just carries it around and then curls up to nap with it. I'm not sure she's caught on to the fun aspect of the Kong. Anyway, in the pic above (which I took from inside my back door, so I wouldn't wake her up, hence the generally bad photo) the red thing under her chin is the Kong. I took this picture like 6 hours ago. She's still in pretty much the same position right now.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Storm Scenes

It seems that everyone around here is really taken with the weird and whacky weather we've been having for, well, it seems like MONTHS now, but I think its only been a couple of weeks. I snapped these photos of the sky a couple of nights ago after one particularly violent storm. I've always loved summer storms - they're exciting and moody. But, I have to say that I'm just a wee bit tired of all this rain!

Nothing else to report right now!

P.S. G and B - I made risotto and asparagus one night, broiled salmon and dill potatoes last night and I'm still looking for time to roast the squash! I'm like Martha Stewart this week! Which of course means that next week I'll be lazy and order pizza three nights in a row...

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Fresh Stuff!

Just a picture of the haul from the farmer's market this morning (I also bought asparagus which is not pictured)! I have to come up with something to make now. I think I've mentioned my inability to just throw things together and come out with a great meal. I really need a recipe to do any kind of cooking, and even then its always anybody's guess whether or not I'll produce something edible. But, everything at the farmer's market looked so pretty and good that I got sucked in! Anyway, we'll see what I come up with...

Friday, June 5, 2009

Adieu Van Buren

Well, its official, I've passed on the Van Buren house. After another visit with Suzy to take photos and make notes and 48 hours of serious deep thinking, I came to the conclusion that it just wasn't the right fit. Well, that and I think I witnessed a drug deal go down in the neighboring yard the other evening. Just didn't make me feel all warm and fuzzy! I've also decided to start looking at houses outside of my target neighborhoods - a great house could be out there somewhere.

So, that's not much in the way of news, but its what I've got!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Did I Mention...

I was just looking through my posts over the last few weeks, and I realized that I never got around to blogging about the fact that the Van Buren House from a month or so ago is BACK ON THE MARKET!!! Yes, that's right - apparently the buyer who swooped in and offered the owner his exact asking price didn't actually have the funds to back up that offer and the contract fell through. Surprise, surprise. Well, anyway, last weekend Suzy called me to say that Van Buren's owner called her to ask if I was still interested, and if I was he would take my original offer plus he would pay my closing costs.

Well, gee, darn - that presents a dilemma for me. After the Van Buren House was off the table, I had pretty much talked myself out of it (it needs too much work, the whole scary apartment building next door issue, the weird parking lot situation, etc. etc.) and decided I hadn't been that thrilled about it. So, now I have someone practically giving me this house and agreeing to all of my demands. Does that change how I feel about the house? I don't know...

I was supposed to go take another look at the house yesterday, notebook in hand, so that I could make a very thorough list of all the pros and cons. That didn't happen because of the afore-mentioned Summer Bug (still visiting, by the way). Instead, I've been laying on my couch going over and over it in my head. That's never good. To compund the problem, my landlord showed up yesterday afternoon with a new 12 month lease for me to sign. I guess he got tired of letting me go month-to-month while I looked for a house. What to do???

Any and all advice would be welcome!

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Other Kind of Summer Bug...

Well, it seems that no sooner was I infected with the need for summer road trips a mere week ago that I was also infected with a dreaded SUMMER COLD. I haven't had one of these horrible little buggers for years, and I had forgotten how miserable it is to be sick when its bright and sunshiney outside and not to mention hot and muggy. Yesterday at work I had what I thought was a severe allergic reaction to something and went home early to take a Benadryl and sleep it off. I was feeling just fine by the time I went out for dinner and a movie with some friends last night, but this morning I woke up with a jug of sloshing water for a head and a throat that was on FIRE! Yuck...I had so many plans for this weekend! Bummer...

On the bright side, I saw Angels & Demons last night, which was really good. G, as promised, I will tell you all about Ewan MacGregor's hotness. He was made even hotter by the fact that he played a priest. I kinda get why women went bonkers over Richard Chamberlain in the Thornbirds now! Anyway, good flick.

Off to drink more tea - with some ice in it...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

In Memory of...

Just a couple of photos from the annual Luminaria at the local Civil War battlefield over the weekend. I have been to this cemetery many, many times in the daylight, and yeah, 3,500 graves looks like a lot. But when you see a little candlight next to each and every one of them it looks like a million points of light, and it really makes you stop and think. I learned this year that under most of the 3,500 grave markers the remains of 3 or 4 soldiers are buried. I'll do the math for you - that's between 10,000 and 13,000 people. And that's from just one battle in the Civil War. Unbelievable.

Anyway, that's how I marked the occasion...