Remodel: The Dining Room

Today is the first day in the series of the “remodel”. It was pretty funny to look back and see the old pictures of the house.  I could definitely see why people told me not to even bother looking at this house when we were looking to buy. However, we did and we all know the story there. We knew it was going to be when the house came back a second time. I can’t wait to show off the results of this, and I will give a step by step detail of process that went in though most of the process would be self-explanatory.

The dining room and kitchen were the first things on our “to-do” list. This was important, because our house had cracked asbestos tiles that we knew were there and could pose a health hazard for our younger child and possibly our forever puppy Zoey. We didn’t want to paint or remove carpeting or anything else until the tile was up and the dust was out of the air.

before shot

before shot

Before Shot

Before Shot

The next step was the removal of the wallpaper. This was easier than anticipated, but it turns out this ease came at a price. The wall started coming off with the wallpaper, leaving chunks off our wall. We quickly plastered the wall and realized that we were going to end up with a textured look to the wall. Luckily, it looks like it was done on purpose and as far as I know no one noticed this. We painted while all the old flooring was doing to use it as a drop cloth while praying for hardwood underneath. It was a gamble that we really had no choice in. To get the double color, we measured out the tape in what would be an even line around the center of the room. After the paint had dried, we pulled the tape off and retaped it on the top color to finish off the bottom color. The paint was Clark+Kensington brand, which was fairly inexpensive but it had the primer in it, and was think and easy to apply. That seemed to work perfectly fine. (I’m not the greatest painter in the world and even with tape I managed to get it everywhere. I am still too tired to care so much about it though.)

Upon pulling up the tile, it had this very thick and sticky adhesive on the floor but we noticed that underneath that adhesive was beautiful hardwood floor. Despite our best efforts, the adhesive was too strong to be pulled up, so our hopes of saving money on buying flooring was quickly dashed. The flooring was that simple wood laminated that you piece together yourself like a puzzle to put in. It was a long and tedious process. The flooring was supposed to go into the kitchen as well, we will get into that story on Wednesday when we get into the kitchen.

Before Shot

Before Shot

Next was the fun part: decor and furniture. The table and chairs were both second-hand gifts from family. The carpet was a pretty inexpensive one purchased at Wal-Mart, as were the small pictures on the wall. The clock and “Kitchen Rules” pieces came from Bed, Bath and Beyond. My favorite feature in the dining room? The little pass through window that leads into the kitchen. It has surprisingly come into more use than you would think, and not just being decorative. Sometimes I even reach across to that counter to grab things I forget to bring to the table when we eat dinner. The wooden shudders that are on both the dining room and kitchen window add a nice personality and charm to the house, so it was decided to leave them up. Hope you enjoyed the first edition of my home remodel.


DSC_0293After Shots:



Welcome to Homeownership

An entire week was spent prepping the house so we could get to moving in and enjoying the fruits of our labor. The before shots were taken, as to document this process and when it is complete, ideally next week, I will start a series about the transformation. And it was certainly transformed, not without many difficulties. But here we are, now in our new home and loving every second of it. We were able to go and do the easy stuff, the shopping for things like decor items and appliances. That was the easy part.

The first day of deliveries came, and soon I was watching my olive-green refrigerator from the 1960’s being hauled off. Then it was time for the stove, to which they said “sorry, it’s plugged in. I cannot help you. Where you do want your new stove?” When he saw my obvious displeasure being hidden by my friendly spirit, he assured me the install guys would haul it away and I wouldn’t be stuck with a stove sitting in the middle of a room. I pointed to my dining room that was still full of boxes, sighing that nothing was going to be easy was it. If I only knew…

The next morning, the installers called at 6:30am to tell me that I should be expecting them soon. At 7am on the dot, they arrived and lasted in my house for about 5 seconds to inform me that my gas shut off for the stove was illegal and not to code. I flashed back to the inspector that looked over that same area and said nothing. Seriously? I thought to myself, and luckily my husband walked in to hear the same exact words as I did. We found a plumber, and called him up and he appeared at my house a few hours later. Not only did he confirm what the Best Buy contractors had told me, but also let me know that the gas hook up for my 1960’s gas dryer was also illegally not to code. I narrowed my eyes and grew angry with the situation. He emailed me a quote for about $1200 to fix everything and install my stove and haul it away. I sighed, but I knew I had to suck it up and get it done. But what about that inspection I forked $450 over for?

Isn’t that why you pay for an inspection? It was mechanical and structural, so shouldn’t someone have seen it? I know he saw it because he pointed out where the gas shut offs were. What now? Could I get my money back for the inspection? Would his insurance cover this and I could recoup at least some of that $1200? We are trying to look into all these options. We emailed our realtor, but no response. This time of year, she’s probably on vacation anyways. Hopefully soon we’ll find out something, anything about this. If not, at least a rule about whether they should have warned us about it. Until then, “Welcome to Homeownership: where the most expensive things will always go wrong, with other expensive things”.

The Big Day is Here

After this often trying journey, the papers are signed and the keys are mine. My first order of business is going to be to get in there and just take it all in. This is ours, a place that we have worked hard for. There’s nothing more rewarding than being able to walk in and say “this is something we earned and worked our butts off for”. I say it all the time, there’s nothing like the feeling of accomplishing your goals that you worked a long time towards. Sure, it would’ve been easier to settle but this feels damn good.

It might not be the largest home but it’s our first and it’s ours, though the 0.35 acre yard is pretty awesome. It might be furnished with mostly second hand stuff, but we bought it. It’s a freeing independence to know that we’re succeeding enough to have our own home, something that is ours and we can do whatever we want to it without worrying about someone telling us we can’t paint with that color. A nice starter home where our boys can have their own rooms (for now) and can run free.

This is one of the most exciting, albeit one of the most stressful, things we have ever done. But to get the greatest rewards in life, you need to work and earn them. I can’t wait to turn this house into a home for our family. More to come, next stage will be following my journey to decorating our home.

Drowning in a Sea of Boxes and Post-its

Buying a house is one thing; buying everything you need to move in and packing it all is another. Since we started the process, we bought things here and there so we didn’t have this huge expense at once. Before we even picked a house, we had most of the basics we would actually need. This weekend we spent putting more of a dent in that list. That was the fun part. Looking at all the stuff you now have to pack? Groan city.
My neighbors sold their house and moved shortly before we heard whether we got the house. She had to drive back to the city to pick up her kids from school and was kind enough to supply us with boxes, bubble wrap and other packing supplies. At first, I thought she had given us too much for what little stuff I thought we had. I was so very wrong. After using about 6 or 7 of those boxes and all of the packing stuff, I reconsidered the state of this situation. I’ve learn my lesson: if you think you have enough boxes, get triple the amount more.
I was impressed with myself with my accomplishment of packing one whole room in 2 hrs. Then I realized how much more I had left to do. I say “I” instead of “we” not because my husband is a useless waste of space, but because I have decided to take this on myself. My husband calls me the “Tetris Queen” because somehow I always get everything to fit. Mostly I’ve decided to do this myself because I am an OCD anal control freak that needs to do this myself or I will make whomever doesn’t do it my way very miserable. (Remember, admitting your flaws is healthy for you and your relationship.) I tell my husband it’s because he does so much at work that I couldn’t possibly make him come home and help with it. No, he doesn’t believe me. Yes, he does know this means “I love you too much to want to hurt you”. He stays out of my way, and tries (mostly unsuccessfully) to keep our toddler out of the way.
I tried to do it while he’s at work, but I found I spent 100% of my time trying to retrieve the box that the toddler declared as his toy, and 0% trying to pack. And “box” was not a typo. One box and 1 hour of effort was all the evidence I needed to prove that this was not going to work out. I considered enlisting the troupe of grandparents that would love to watch him but like usual, my sense of family duty won. If I can manage a child while vomiting and completely exhausted with fever, certainly I can handle packing with my overly active toddler. Millions of parents do this all the time, so dammit I can to. I was raised that way, and I’m made of steel. Stainless steel.
Friday is the big day. I have set myself up to fail by listening to my husband and waiting until now to do this. But I am nothing if not amazing at meeting deadlines. I live for this sort of pressure. I will have everything packed at ready to go for Friday, especially considering I’m probably going to be too excited to sleep Thursday night. I’m ready for this.

One Week

My husband and I look at each other every day since getting word of the house, we smile and say “homeowner”. We are beyond excited.  We’ve moved onto a new stage of this journey: logistics. How should this room look? How should we set up this place? What about my office area? When should we do this project? Do we rent a truck or borrow one?
This weekend the packing and cleaning starts. Everything is becoming more real now. My weekend and week will be about boxes and shopping. There’s a lot to do in a week, and I hope I can get most of it done. There’s no real rush to be done in a week, because we still have abestos tiles to pull up and paint to dry and air out fumes. Plus, the internet won’t be in for another week so I can’t really work there until then.
I just want the keys, I want to sign the paperwork and lay down on our lawn or our floor and just take a moment to take all of this in. It’s ours. I want to stand at our windows and look around. I want to take a run in the new area and get user to my surroundings. My anxiety has turned into complete excitement. I can’t wait to see it when we’re done and officially moved in.
There is nothing more adult feeling than knowing you own a house. In January when I turned 30, I didn’t think that I would be where we are now. I felt like a failure in following my dreams of writing. I thought we would never get a home. Now, my writing career seems to be doing well for someone really starting to break into the field. And now next week we get the keys to our home. Turning 30 turned out to be the best thing to have happened to me. This upcoming adventure will be on my top 5 “best things to happen to me” list.


The title speaks for itself. After all that stress and anxiety, we were given the exciting news that we were going to be homeowners. We survived. We did it. (More on the interesting way we found out.) We set up schedules for our utilities, so now we just have to get everything set to move in and get on with the fun/misery that comes with home ownership.
After blogging on Monday, I continued on a hot streak by getting more work done. My husband called, but I missed it. Apparently our underwriter sent us an email from the loan site and he couldn’t log on since I had the passwords. I quickly looked through, dismissed it as boring appraisal forms and decided to print it out and read later.
Later came and I printed out all 33 pages. I sleepily looked through it until at the end I noticed another letter head. Confused, I read that it was an approval letter for our mortgage. I found it odd that no one called us. Maybe it was a mistake. So I called my husband back to let him know the possible good news. He agreed to call the mortgage broker to make sure that everything really was set.
It turns out the email service was faster than our mortgage broker because she had called him shortly after to inform him that after all our worrying, everything worked out. The realtor called soon after to share with us the next steps. Next we had to transfer names onto the electric company, because that way we avoid connection fees. We had to get our gas set up, and they provided us with a “new home buyers” program where they did the leg work and helped us set up cable and ADT, as well as sending us coupons for Home Depot. They officially win as “best company”.
Our realtor also suggested we get in there to get measurements so we could get furniture and appliances delivered asap so they were in when we needed, as well as discussed the day before closing walk through, then the actual closing. This is really happening.
Everything paid off in the end. We get our dreams that we worked hard for. We survived with our marriage intact, are sanity still there, and huge smiles on our faces. Next Friday, the keys will be ours and the “fun” begins. Now, the next chapter is the packing.

Updates on Homes and Careers.

I missed Friday on account of it being errand day, full of doctors and dentists. I tried my best, especially since I swore I wouldn’t miss any more posts, but it didn’t work out for me. Today I am back, and as mediocre as ever. Now, to play catch up.
The appraisal came back on our (hopeful) home. I was concerned about this, just slightly, since this was pretty much the only huge obstacle between us and the loan approval. This is considering that the cash gift doesn’t tank the whole deal. Most people agree we should be fine. Since we had the capabilities for a higher preapproval than we asked for, I hope that means we don’t have to worry so much soon. With our closing date approaching at the end of next week, I’m getting anxious that we haven’t heard anything yet. I’m mastering the deep breathing, since this entire process has caused my anxiety to spike. Soon. Everything with come together. It’s fate. This house would not come back to us twice if it weren’t meant to be. Right?
My comic venture is almost complete. I’ve gotten used to my awesome graphic tablet, and I can draw as successfully on it as I can paper. The next step is figuring how to add text in the program I am using. Currently I am working with Comicado lite, as I’m not sure about going with the full version just yet until I figure out if this venture is worth the time. (Not just monetarily, but enjoyment as well.) July 14, I hope to officially launch my first comic.
Other changes coming in July? My blog, which has mostly been focused on the house hunt, will be changing topics assuming the close happens as planned. It will focus on the obvious next step of the move: the updating and decorating of the home. With pictures included. I also hope to be able to restart my parenting/mom Hubpages, since the setup of the new house allows for double duty of stay-at-home parenting and work from home writer.
There are so many changes coming and I’m glad to have you guys around for this ride. With getting a now steady cash flow from my writing and getting this new home with my family, I feel like I’m living a dream I never thought would happen. I’m a published author (ebooks available on the Kindle, link on the sidebar “To Buy My Work”), blogger, and a contributor on a music website called Musikface. I couldn’t have achieved any of this without my husband pushing me to not give up on my dreams, which was a tough job for him at several points. Thank you guys for continually coming back and sharing this journey with me.

The Week Long Wait

When it comes to a lot of things, I can be patient. What I can’t be patient about are things that are entirely out of my control. I want to, I really want to, be able to sit patiently without obsessively checking my email or asking my husband if he had heard anything new about the house or appraisal. But that isn’t me. I obsess, I want to grasp the ball back into my own court so I can at least be a part of the control. I’m not that lucky, and it’s entirely out of my hands. And this makes me nervous.

By Friday we should know something about the appraisal, if not about the whole answer of whether or not we were approved for the loan. At least my nerves are doing better knowing that someone else I know had the same deal with a cash gift and went through the same company as us and it worked out. That gives me some hope, but I’m still overly cautious because things have a way of just not working out for me. Sometimes I get lucky, but mostly it’s my stubborn determination and cursing a lot at fate that makes things fall into place. You just have a to try a few things and see what works, I suppose.
But for now, I just wait. I have enough to worry about with my son’s baseball and middle school orientation this week to occupy my mind, as well as catch up on some writing projects. I’m glad we’re doing this though. This has been difficult and trying for us as a family and we have yet to argue or yell at each other during this process, which allows us to see how strong of a couple we are. If we can make it through this journey without so much of a scratch, as we did with our baby’s surgery, everything else should be a cake walk. That’s what I keep telling myself anyways.

Sometimes With Houses, You Just Get Lucky

It’s incredible to think that we started searching for our first home at the end of April. If things go well, in 23 days time we will be signing papers and having keys handed to us. Even as short of a journey that we’ve had, it was enough to give me some stubborn grey hairs and stress that raising two boys didn’t even manage to do. If things don’t go well, we’ll have to wait 60 days before reapplying for a loan and hope that our son’s school lets him stay there.
I don’t want to think about that. I would rather focus on positive thoughts. The seller agreed on fixes, which was more than we thought.  We lucked out, especially since they added an “as is” clause last-minute on the contract as a “screw you” because they misunderstood how much we wanted for closing costs. I don’t know what our realtor did, but the fact she wiggled out of it for us was amazing. She did hint that she could take the seller’s very obviously newbie to the cleaners, and I think she did just that.
That was a huge weight off our shoulders. Now we have more money to spend on furnishing the household, and I can’t wait to start tag saling and hunting the thrift stores for our stuff. This means we are one step closer to getting into the house. Now we get to wait anxiously as we wait for the appraisal and loan approval. But the bank’s appraisal can’t be too far off from the city’s assessment, right? And we’re paying $30k less than the city’s assessment of the house’s worth. I’m pretty sure one of us is going to have a heart attack over this process.
We worked hard to get to this point in our lives. I want to believe that we deserve this because we’ve earned it. If nothing else, we deserve it because of the long list of things that have gone wrong in our lives and we took it like champs without complaints or asking “why?”. We’re ready to make this huge step in our lives and can’t wait until we can sit in our own living room with our own furniture and enjoying peace after all of this stress.

The Waiting Game and Other Weekend Happenings

Why does it seem this blog is all over the place? Because it is. The tagline does say “random rantings”. That’s not the entire reason. I don’t like being locked into a specific category in my every day life, let alone my career. This is probably why I enjoy freelancing as much as I enjoy my book writing or my blogging. Freelancing allows me to wear as man different hats as I can, with something new daily. Plus, the trick to blogging is to just write something. Anything really. If all I can think of to write about is how I think Asian food is amazing, you will get 300+ words of that. Not because I want to bore you with that but because something needs to be a place holder in case I have a moment of genius. Which leads me to today’s mash-up.
I get to wait anxiously today as we wait to hear if the sellers will fix the more major of the problems in the house. Granted these are fairly inexpensive things as far as home repairs go, but that’s money that can go to a better set of furniture or towards my dream double oven stove. The fact that the most expensive things in the house are brand new and will probably last until we move out makes it hard to walk away over, at most, repairs that will be under a thousand dollars. The only thing will be if the appraisal is affected by those repairs. Either way, we just have to cross our fingers and hope the keys are in our hands at the end of this month.
I’m a fan of television, especially the weirder TLC ones. I have to say that “Sex Sent Me to the ER” is a show that brings me great joy. I know, this makes me look equal parts evil and crazy, but I laugh pretty hard every week during the episode. It’s almost like a comedy show for me. I’m a sick soul. In other television admissions, that episode of “Game of Thrones” was the most disappointing episode I have seen. They made an epic scene into something comedic, and let’s be honest here. The best scene of the show involved a conversation about morons and beetles. This better not be a sign of impending failure of the upcoming last 2 episodes of the season.
The final thing involves a tiny blurb about etiquette at a child’s sports event, whether it be a practice or a game. Coaches volunteer and do not get paid for what they do and you should be grateful to them, not treat them like dirt because you signed them up for a commitment you have difficulties keeping. It’s not only a terrible example to set for your kids, it’s an awful one to set for others. Plus it just makes you look like a sad excuse for a person, because they are their on their own time with our kids. So if you’re “that” parent, just leave and not ruin it for everyone else. /endrant
There is my random mash-up for the day. I hope to see you on Wednesday, where maybe I’ll have a more interesting topic for you.