Thursday, May 31, 2012

Yard Sales - Spring 2012

I've noticed I tend to use both the phrases 'garage sale' and 'yard sale'. I don't discriminate. I don't care if your old crap is thrown in your garage or in your yard, I will buy it. Well, I have my limitations, but house stuff, baby stuff & yard stuff are my yard/garage sale items of choice. And this year hasn't disappointed.

(If you are new here, I once talked about how 60-70% of the decor in my house is from yard sales. I was being generous by saying only 60-70, and it's probably more like 80-85%. I like other people's trash, apparently. And I think other people's trash looks pretty darn good in my house. Also, kid/baby stuff is awesome at yard sales.)

So, this year we've only been able to go a few times. And a couple of those times were total busts. Like, I came home with a tutu for Charley (albeit a CUTE tutu for only $1) and a book which were both good deals, but weren't worth getting up at 7:00 am good deals. But, that's the beauty of it. You'll have the bad weeks, but since there is no way of knowing which weeks will be good or bad, you must go often! And buy lots! Because when you have a good week, it's a really GOOD week.

My mom, 2 sisters and I had a really good week this week. Had to quit early because we ran out of space to put our crap.

So, this is what my haul looked like from the really good week a few weeks ago.

I already mentioned that I got these oval frames I used for Charley's silhouette.
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$1 each, and perfect after a coat of paint. And to be honest, $1 each is a bit high as far as yard sale pricing goes. But I was willing to pay so I didn't even bargain. Plus, I'm a bit timid in the art of bargaining and usually sucker my sister in to doing it for me.

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I almost passed up these baskets. They are big, cute and perfect for Charley's room and toys, but they were at the very last yard sale of the day, and I had spent ALL of my cash and had $8 left which wasn't enough for the $10 price tag. But, after my sisters and mom convinced me I needed them, I offered the lady my last $8 and she accepted! Whoo!

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$1 for the clock.

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50 cents for the basket and everything in it! Crazy right? I was going to offer a dollar or 2 for just the twiney balls, but when she said $.50 for it all I was sold!

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For the office in the new house. $5, and I thought it would be good to toss the mail in instead of just leaving it on the table like we do currently.

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Needs to be cleaned up a little, but a cute leather box thing that I though would also look good in the future office on a shelf. $1.

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$1. Metal tray. Will be nice on a coffee table or foyer table.

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$1! This guy was so funny. He had really nice kid and home things which were all from Pottery Barn and the likes. His wife had gone inside and left him to man the yard sale, and was selling everything for dirt cheap. My sisters, mom and I pretty much cleaned up with him! I only got this pillow, but my sisters walked away with lamps and other decor for $1 each. I bet he got in so much trouble with his wife later!

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$3. Old shelf thing with tin drawers. Don't know where it will go yet, but I liked it and will find a home for it in the new house after a good clean and maybe some paint.

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Set of two framed postage stamp looking things. Got these from the same lady that had the black mail divider thing and offered her $10 for both things instead of the $13 she was asking. She accepted! Thought these would also look nice in future office.

All this from one Saturday morning. It's such a thrill, and I know there are a million other things in my house that I've never even shown you that came from yard sales. And when I move into our new house, I plan on starting over completely with "new" stuff, which we can afford to do since I do it so cheaply. Me likey! Do you?
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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Silhouetting

I have been putting off this project for over a year now. Originally I was going to do this for my sisters for Christmas 2010 of their kids. And then when that didn't happen I said I'd do it for Mother's Day for them, and it still just never happened. But, a friend of mine posted a blog that had easy to follow DIY instructions and it finally gave me the motivation to get this project done. Only now I was going to be selfish since I have a baby of my own to do instead of my doing one of my nieces and  nephews. Sorry sisters! Maybe for Christmas this year!

Anyways, I love silhouettes. When I got my DSLR a couple years ago, I had fun playing with one of the settings (before I knew how to really use my camera) on the beach with my family. That's when I decided I was going to make the silhouettes for my sisters myself.



So, fast forward to this year. A friend of mine posted this tutorial, and combined with what I already knew from prior research I decided I was ready to tackle this project. First, I needed a picture.

I knew the best silhouette pictures are when the light is behind the person, making their outline nice and defined. I knew that the sun shown through my sliding glass door each evening, so when the curtain was closed that made for the perfect place to take my picture. I got John to hold Charley and hoped that she would face the right direction for me to get the perfect picture.

After a few minutes, John dangled bananas in front of Charley to keep her still enough for the shutter button to capture her profile. So, my first piece of advice if you want to do this yourself: buy bananas. You're welcome.

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She really likes bananas, but usually the jarred kind. Whatever works.
So then I took that picture to Photoshop. I played with the contrast and did some cropping until I ended up with this:

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Then, to make it even more contrasty and defined, I clicked the magic wand tool button and for the most part, her profile was instantly selected for me. It did also pick up the shadow in the curtain behind her, but I fixed that in the next step.

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I then drug the selection over to a new blank, white file. I took the eraser and erased everything except what I wanted. (curtain shadow and her body which I didn't need) I went ahead and made a nice line for the bust while I was at it and ended up with this:
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I drew the eyelashes in when I could still see her eyes so I knew exactly where they should be placed.

Next, I needed to size the silhouette to fit my frame. Speaking of frames...

Last weekend I went to garage sales with my mom and sisters. (Have more details about that coming soon!) One thing I was specifically looking for was a frame to use for this project. I actually announced to my mom and sisters as we were walking up to a yard sale that this is what I really wanted to find so if they saw something they could grab it for me. Two minutes later, I stumbled upon the exact thing I was looking for. I was going to settle for rectangular frames, but ultimately I wanted oval. Oval is what I found:

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The frames were hideous as they were, but for $1 each I was willing to see if some paint could save them. If not, I wasn't out much.

But, lucky for me, paint did wonders. I had a frame for Charley, and an extra for Charley's future sibling.

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Next, the other blog's DIY instructions said to print the silhouette on normal paper, and then trace onto the black cardstock. I went ahead and printed to double check the sizing.

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I was happy with that, but was dreading the tracing step. I knew this would be the part I would screw up on and it would look nothing like Charley when done. So, I had another idea. What if I mirrored the picture and then printed it directly onto the black cardstock. It may show up enough that I would then be able to cut directly around the face on the cardstock and thus eliminating a step. Of course, it would only work if the black on black showed up...

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It did. Yay! So, next step was to cut out around her sweet little face. I printed her backwards from the way I wanted her, so when finished the other side from the printed side would be the one to show.

I have an old rotary cutter that is meant for cutting fabrics but I have since switched brands so I no longer use this one for fabrics. I thought it would be perfect for this and it was. It was very easy to cut (very slowly) perfectly around her head.

Finally, I cut scrapbook paper to fit the frame, taped the silhouette onto the scrapbook paper (because I will likely change the scrapbook paper later when I find something I really want. This was just something I had on hand.), and put the frame back together again. I added her name and age and called it a day.

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What do you think? I pretty much love it! It cost me ONE dollar to do, and including painting, drying, and Photoshopping time, 2 hours at the most. Super easy and very cute! I can definitely tell she's mine!

Finally, no, unless you are my sisters I will not make you one. Ha! Bird mobiles are my business so if you'd like one of those then I'll help you out. But, if you would still rather buy one than make one, go see her (here or here). She is really awesome and I had her number in my back pocket in case I wasn't able to do this myself. She'll take care of you!

Hi Ho, Hi Ho: Part 1

I'm pretty much copying this idea from Maggie and A'dell. I'm hoping they don't mind! But I'm going to add a confession to each job story, because even though I claim to be a perfect little employee that isn't always the case. And as I started writing this it occurred to me just how many jobs I've had and I think I need to break it up into 2 or 3 posts or else it will be super long.

I've been a working girl since I was 16 years old. I can only remember one point in time that I didn't have a job, and that was in between a job that I possibly was fired from (more on that later) until I secured another job a couple of months later. Besides that, I have 14 years of work history, and most of all of that is full time. I like working, err, I like having money I should say. Although I really genuinely have liked most of all of the jobs I've ever had.

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My very first job was at Limited Too. My friend and I were shopping in November sometime and for whatever reason we were shopping in Limited Too even though we were 16 years old. The manager rung us up, and then casually asked us if we wanted jobs. We both said, "um, sure" and filled out applications. I went on to work there throughout the holiday season even though my BFF never did. And when the holidays were over I was offended that I was no longer being put on the schedule. No one told me I was just holiday help! But anyways, I was terrible at that job. I was a super shy girl and the job they wanted me to do all the time was greet the customers. Talk to people? You've got to be kidding me.

Confession: I loathed greeting people so much that one day I was put on return-the-clothes-to-the-shelves-from-the-dressing-room-where-everyone-leaves-them-all-over-the-floor duty. (Please tell me you don't do this.) Anyways, I went into one of the fitting rooms to clean it out, and in an effort to waste a bit of the workday away, I shut the door and sat down on the little bench. (Little, because this is a children's store after all.) I pulled my feet up off of the floor so no one would see me in there and killed about 20 minutes just hanging out in the fitting room scrunched up on the bench. That $2.50 I earned while sitting in there was well deserved!

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My next job was with the same friend at Carowind's Theme Park. This theme park is only miles from my house, and it is pretty much THE summer job for everyone in the area. My older sister worked there back when she was a teen, too. So, on orientation day they assign you to whichever type of job you applied for (food, rides, games, etc.). Like, they put you at one of the restaurants if you signed up for food, which I did. I was put in a air conditioned indoor restaurant, while my BFF was put in an outdoor picnic shelter thing where they had company picnics and such. I didn't like this other girl that was assigned to the same restaurant as me, so I asked orientation leader if I could be placed in the picnic shelter as well. He agreed, and I was set to work with my BFF! YAY!

On our first day we worked a company picnic. Basically, local companies go to this theme park for the day and they split up to enjoy the park with their families, but meet up for lunch in this picnic shelter area where they serve hot dogs and hamburgers. My first duty was filling up drinks, and I was great at that. I had the ice to soda ratio down pat. But then later after the picnics were over I had to help clean up the kitchen and one of those things was to dispose of the hot dog chili into the dumpster. It was in one of those giant industrial metal pan things that are set over a warmer (know what I mean?) and I was instructed to just carry the whole thing out to the dumpster and dump it in. Ehh, okay, sure. I can do that. But, I was a way pickier eater back then and the thought of hot dog chili even touching me disgusted me so I was doing all in my power to not get an ounce of it on me.

I carried it out to the dumpster holding it away from my body as to not get chili remnants on my shirt, and started to dump it. Only, as the flies got a whiff of the chili they came in to swarm me and the chili and I was pretty close to dropping the whole pan in the dumpster and running away. I held it together though, and returned the emptied pan back to the kitchen.

Confession: That was my first and last day at this job. After that first day, the manager couldn't find our time cards as we were leaving and therefore couldn't give us our schedule for the rest of the week. He called us later with the schedule but I pretended not to get the phone call and BFF and I never went back. So ashamed!

Okay, now I got to a point where I understood what a job was about and I was ready to find one that I could stick with for a while. Much like I had done before, I went out job "shopping" with my same BFF. We ended up applying at a movie theater and both got hired. It didn't take long for us to make tons of new friends and we realized we both loved this job. I believe we started working there in February, and I lasted a full 10 months at this one, only to quit because a few mean boys were picking on me and also, Christmas was coming and did you know movie theaters are open on Christmas? There was no way I was working on Christmas so I quit. BUT, I am still friends with a lot of people I met while working at this theater for those 10 months. It was such a fun job.

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When you work at a movie theater, you get to screen the new movies to make sure the film isn't damaged or has any imperfections before the movies are released. This would happen after movie theater hours, so many nights one of these screenings would start at 11:00 p.m. and I'd stay and watch the movie and then we'd go to Steak n Shake afterwards to eat. I wouldn't get home until really late and then once we'd get home we'd get online (dial-up, even) and get in a private AOL chatroom and we'd chat until 4 in the morning. I have so many fond memories of that job and those people! Shout out to my AMC peeps!!

Confession: We weren't allowed to take tips from people while we were working, but once this man came through my line when I was working at the concession stand and pulled out a ginourmous stack of bills to pay for his overpriced popcorn and soda. I must have either made a shocked face or said something about his stack o' cash because he then handed me a twenty super casually, and I super casually stuck it in my pocket. Thanks dude! & then another time I was cleaning out a theater between movies and found $40 in a seat and stuck that in my pocket too. I mean, what was I supposed to do with it? Take it to the lost and found box?! I probably bought myself a new pair of Mudd jeans with that cash!

So those were my first three jobs and I'm up to age 17 now. Don't worry, the length of time I stayed at jobs has increased as I've gone along. From age 17 to now, I've only had 6 different jobs so I should be able to finish this up with one or two more posts. Unless of course this is dreadfully boring for you and you want me to stop now. Yes? But just warning you, if I stop now you won't get to hear about me creating balance sheets and posting journal entries! You wouldn't want to miss that would you? Yeah, okay, I'll end this before I get to boring grown-up-job-land. Deal?

Any confessions of your own with old jobs you've held? Who had the absolute worst first job? Tell me I wanna know!
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Charley Bear: 8.5 months

[1 month, 2 months, 3 months, 4 months, 5 months, 6 months, 7 months]

Charley turned 8 months old two weeks ago and I remembered to take her monthly pictures, but never wrote up what was new during her 8th month. And now, it's 15 days past her 8th month birthday making her 8.5 months and she's doing new stuff every single day it seems. Instead of trying to remember what happened before her 8th month birthday and what happened after,  I'm including everything up to this point in this post. I have a feeling that Charley will hit another big milestone between now and her 9th month birthday anyways so I'll have something new to talk about then.

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Yes, she does look awfully small for an 8.5 month old. That's because this picture was actually taken on her 8th month birthday. Are we confused yet? Moving on...

This month didn't bring any more teeth or sickness, thankfully. She was happy, healthy, and had no more episodes of poor sleep. Wahoo! She is very mobile now, but isn't crawling. She can roll, scoot, and grunt her way across any room. She been getting up on her knees and rocking, and can army crawl anywhere she wants to go. I know crawling is just around the corner...eep! Which means I need to baby proof and lower her crib mattress. (No, I haven't done that yet and yes, I know I should have already.)

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We've also heard a couple Dadas and even some Mamamamamamama. She doesn't know what she's saying yet, but it still melts you when she does it. The first time that she does say Mama with intent I will be a big puddle of goo. When she fusses, she does now say nanananananaana, which I translate to mamamamamama. We have some guh sounds, some buh sounds, and I think that's about it. Basically, she's fluent in 3 languages. Also, she does this adorable thing when practicing saying a new word; she moves her lips first with no sound. And once she has the lip movements down, she then puts sound behind it.

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Also in the "new tricks" department, Charley will now give kisses. Only, the only person worthy of her sweet little kisses is herself. Which is fine with me; I'll encourage her to be choosy on who she kisses when she's older. She's just not sure if she can trust me or her Dada just yet so she's only choosing to kiss herself apparently:



The food department looks about the same as it did last month. She is still nursing morning and night, and gets two bottles of formula at my sister's. She also has cereal in the morning and a fruit and vegetable at night. She has learned to hold her own bottle though which is awesome and sad at the same time. We're still working on the sippy cup. I think she'd probably have it by now if I was more dilligent about letting her practice with it. I just want my ittle bittle baby to stay wittle and drink from her bottle forever! Wahh!

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What else? She's pretty much over the jumperoo and is loving the around-we-go right now. Which kinda sucks because we actually bought the jumperoo new instead of used (like we usually do) so we really only got three or so months of use out of it. Whatever makes you happy though, darling.

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She's taking 2 good naps a day, with an occasional 3rd cat nap. First nap is 2-3 hours, second nap usually 1-1.5 hours, and then the cat nap is cat nappish. Goes to bed at 8 (nurses at 7:30 and usually falls asleep during that) and we get her up at 6:30 during the week to eat and get ready to go to my sister's. I know we hit the baby jackpot with her sleep schedule and I'm super thankful.

I want to say something cliche about how it's all going so fast and I just want her to slow down and snuggle with me a bit longer, but that's really cheesetastic and I wouldn't say things like that or like this: growing so fast! getting so big! becoming a little person! etc. etc. No, I definitely will not say things like that.

Happy 8 (8.5) months baby doll/shuggie/sweet potato/Charley!

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

How NOT to Diet

I know how to lose weight. I lost 20 pounds before my wedding doing Weight Watchers and never exercised even once. Which means that the major player in my fat game is what I eat. & while I know this, I still seem to slip up, er, royally screw up a lot of the time. I just like yummy, fatty food too much.

While I have been very lucky to drop all of the baby weight without an ounce of effort (well, the scale says it's gone...the extra pooch on my stomach begs to differ), I still would like to lose about 10 more pounds to get me back closer to wedding weight. But the motivation just isn't there for me.

There are tons of blogs and websites that will tell you exactly what you need to do to diet and/or change your lifestyle. I'm not going to contribute to that plethora of information. Instead, I'm going to explain how NOT to diet and NOT change your lifestyle because this is the field of which I am an expert.


  • DO NOT make a weekly grocery list and ensure that you have enough lunches and dinners for the week. If you don't, you'll no doubt end up needing to eat out for at least 50% of your weekly meals due to poor planning.
  • Also, when you do have to go out to eat, DO NOT go to a healthy place. They take so much longer than fast food, which means you'd have to be out longer and therefore not sitting in your office chair or on your couch for that much longer. Fast food = faster you can get your rump back in a chair.
  • Since going out to eat costs money, DO NOT pass up using coupons and gift cards during those weeks where funds are a bit tight. If it's a toss up between ordering a grilled chicken sandwich from LaVecchia's for regular price, or going to use your $10 gift card at Salsarita's, it's automatically a given to go use your gift card. 
  • DO NOT order healthy items, such as grilled chicken.
  • If you must order grilled chicken, DO smother it underneath tortilla chips, refried beans, queso, sour cream, salsa and shredded cheese. DO, DO, DO.
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  • DO consider salsa to be your daily vegetable intake. 
  • When you get to the register to pay with your gift card and they ask if you'd like a drink, DO order one. After all, it's free and if you didn't order a soda, you'd have to make the walk to refill your water bottle when you get back to your desk. We wouldn't want that to put ourselves through that much exertion, now would we?
  • When you are eating your nachos, DO be sure to eagle eye spot any chunks of onion used in the salsa and properly dispose of them. Ew.
  • DO make sure you leave just enough queso, shredded cheese, and refried beans to pile up on your last chip. That last bite should be the best one of all because it will linger in your mouth for a while.
  • If for some reason you missed a chunk of onion in your very last bite and now have a lingering onion taste in your mouth (CURSES!), DO make sure to then go buy a cookie or brownie for dessert to replace that oniony taste.
Questions? Comments? I really am an expert at this NOT dieting stuff, so I'll be glad to help any of the rest of you if you'd like to join me. Misery loves company, after all.
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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Honey, I'm home!

I am currently going to have to curb my superstitions a bit because I promised you I'd share about our new house. Everything is going swimmingly so far, but I have this fear that as soon as I put this out here that we're going to lose financing, they won't be able to find water for our well and everything will go awry. I'm so afraid of jinxing it, but I'm gonna share anyways. Just don't ridicule me later if I end up having to move into a cardboard box instead of this lovely home.

So. Where were we? We have decided to stop paying our mortgage and to begin looking for a new house. We aren't looking to trade this new house in in a few years, so we are looking for our forever home. I have one major requirement: no neighborhood. Which sort of makes things a bit more difficult, but hear me out.

I have a working theory about this. I think you ultimately want to live in a home similar to what you were used to where you grew up. (Unless of course you really did grow up in a cardboard box; then you may strive to have some more stable walls around you.) But for example, my older sisters grew up in a neighborhood. Lots of houses and lots of kids around. Currently, they both live in a neighborhood very similar to that. Between my 2 older sisters, and then my younger brother and I, my parents moved us all. They bought a house still in the city but it was several acres and wooded and it was just on a street. Know what I mean? There were a few kids around, but the amazing thing about this place was there was so much beautifulness to look at and play amongst. Huge yards, forests, creeks, etc. Therefore, I longed for a place just like that. Land, trees, and neighbors, but not 5-feet-away neighbors. It's just what I prefer, that's all.

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Who wouldn't love living here?

Coincidentally, on my parent's street there was only ONE lot that remained undeveloped and it was right next door to theirs. 4 acres. Trees. And the people that bought it had done nothing with it. It would be perfect. So John called the guy and he found out that he'd actually built his house elsewhere after buying this property and had just held onto this land for the last decade or so. He would be willing to sell it! Yay!

But then he told us how much, and we thought it was too much for our budgets, sadly. So we kept that idea in our back pockets just in case. Meanwhile, my parents had really fallen in love with the idea of John and I (or maybe I should just say Charley) moving next door. As they age, we'd be right there to help them if they ever needed it and they would be able to stay in their home for longer/forever. It was a win/win. So, they then made us an offer we couldn't turn down. They offered to sell us a portion of their property. Their house is way back from the road (behind me in the picture above) so we could build at the front of the property and we'd still have our own privacy and they'd have theirs. (It would be to the top left in the picture above.) Of course we said yes.

Side story: I never really mentally moved away from "home". I constantly have dreams where my home is their house, and when they call me their number shows up as "home" on my cell phone. It only makes sense that I'm going back.

So, John and I spent hours going over house plans trying to find the perfect ones for us and for "our" land. It's on a hill, which is perfect for having a full basement. (Northerner blog readers: we don't really have many homes with basements here in the south, so that's a big deal!) We finally found the one, and we purchased the plans.


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It's just perfect for us. The upstairs will work so good for us until we are able to finish the basement. And once we finish the basement we will have all the space we'll ever need. Barring me getting pregnant with quints or something. Ha.

My main things when we were searching floor plans: no dining room; that's a wasted space for me. Definitely need an area for the computers on the main floor since we are on them so often - see flex space above. Side entry garage; I'm not a fan of front entry garages. And one story (minus the basement). Things that got bonus points: large garden tub, an island in the kitchen, and extra storage room since we both plan on utilizing the garage. Check, check & check.

And then we sent the plans to contractors to get them priced. And that's kind of where we are right now. We have a few contractors in mind and they are each pricing it out for us and then we'll decide. We're 99% sure with who we're going with, but it's smart to shop around so that's what we are doing. After that, the bank will move towards closing the construction loan, and after that closes we can get started. Wahoo!

Lucky for me (us), John and my dad are super duper handymen. They can do just about anything and are going to do as much as possible themselves to save us money. The first thing that they are able to do themselves is clear the land. Since we don't need the construction loan to pay for anything for that, they can go ahead and get started clearing the land themselves. It's so exciting to see it coming together already.

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Charley has been also stopping by to help when she can.
I want to make sure I take a ton of pictures throughout the process so I'll definitely keep you updated as this moves along. If we do end up moving into a cardboard box, I will be sure to plant a few trees to replace the ones we've taken down. It just may take 20 or so years for them to grow back...sorry parents!

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Oops. Forgot to wear my "working" shoes. Guess I'll just have to sit here on this tree and watch.

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In our backyard.


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Again, in the backyard.

I can't wait to stand in that same spot and take another picture soon. Hopefully, in the background will be a beautiful new house, and our minds will be more at ease from the mess we'll certainly deal with concerning our current house.

This really is my "dream" house. It's no wonder I dream of my parent's house all the time. It's like my subconscious has been telling me to go home all along. Little did I know that I wouldn't have to move into my old bedroom down the hall to make that a reality.
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Friday, May 4, 2012

Jelly Bean

The most hilarious thing just happened in my house. I just hope I can convey it through words and the interwebs to be as funny as it was in person.

So, since I am still nursing Charley I take 2 prenatal vitamins every day. One is just a regular prenatal, and the other is a DHA supplement which is basically a plant based fish oil, I think. I actually have no idea if that is what it is or not. I was just told to take them by a doctor and I do as I'm told. Anyways, I prefer to take them in the mornings with breakfast, and I normally eat my breakfast once I'm at work. Therefore, I typically take the two vitamins and stick them in my pocket for later.

About 50% of the time, I forget to ever take them and I end up finding them in the bottom of my purse or in my pockets before I do laundry. Today though, someone else found them, and they weren't in my purse nor were they in the washing machine.

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This afternoon I had big plans to work in the yard a bit right when I got home from work. I picked up Charley, rushed home and as soon as she was fed, changed & happy I proceeded to change out of my work clothes. I took the pants I was wearing off, hung them up on a hanger and then put on my work-in-the-yard clothes and came back downstairs.

(I then attempted to work in the yard, except that only lasted 15 minutes before Charley was done playing out there. Oy. So we came back in.)

Meanwhile, John came home from work. His plan for the afternoon was to come home, change out of his work clothes and into some work clothes, and go over to the land where our new house is going to be built and clear some more trees and such. He went on upstairs to our shared closet to change clothes.

Not 5 minutes later, I hear AHHH and expletives coming from the upstairs. I yell to him and ask what is wrong, and I get no response. I still hear movement up there so I ignore his silence. I assumed he found a giant spider or something of that nature and has taken care of it.

Finally, John came back down and told me what happened. He was changing his clothes in the closet, when, what to his wondering eyes should appear, but a long, lost JELLY BEAN!
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It was his lucky day! He remembered eating jelly beans about a week ago, and just thought one had fallen into his pocket, and then later fallen out of his pocket onto the closet floor. Makes perfect logical sense...

::crickets::

 So, anyways, as anyone with any sense would do, he picked up the jelly bean off of the floor and took a bite out of it.

Only, it wasn't a jelly bean at all. When I hung my pants up that I wore to work today, my vitamins must have fallen out onto the floor. Cue expletives and yelling. And him trying to rinse his mouth out with water.

The good news is that DHA supplements are good for brain and eye development, and clearly both John's brain and eyes could use a little help.
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Thursday, May 3, 2012

A Sad State of Affairs

You voted, and here it is! I waste no time! (& I knew this would win out. You guys are so predictable!)

This is what happens with me: I love to blog and I love to be completely honest about what's going on with me. I don't like to hold back much, especially with big stuff. So, when there is big stuff going on in my life I naturally want to share it here with you. But, say big stuff is probably best left as a private matter and shouldn't be broadcast for the world to see. Well, then I subconsciously start posting way less, because the big thing is on my mind and since I can't/shouldn't talk about it here I have a hard time forming coherent thoughts about other topics. Make sense?

No, I'm not pregnant. But the same thing happened last year when I was pregnant and I wasn't sharing it yet. I just couldn't blog as often because the pregnancy was in the forefront of my mind and putting together a complete thought about anything else was just impossible.

So, wanna know what I'm talking about? Because ultimately, I'm going to share it anyways since I can't keep secrets about myself. I pretty much told you already anyways.

We're building a new house. Exciting right? Why wouldn't I want to share that? Well, because there is a lot of back story to why we are building now and what led us to this point. But, I'd rather people know the truth than assume things. People are going to do that anyways, but at least I can put the truth out there and then people can judge if they wanna. Which, I guarantee I will get judged for this...

So, it's the year 2007. John and I are happily dating and living in our third apartment in the three years we've been living together. My sister casually mentions to us that she is going to be selling her townhome that she has been renting out to a friend. We think, hey, maybe we can buy it. We have no savings or anything and only plan on this being a temporary home as it's only a two bedroom townhome. John ends up buying it (in only his name since we weren't married yet) and we move in. Basically, we now have an apartment we "own" and we start fixing it up real fancylike and making it ours. John's super handy and I'm super decoratory. We make a good team.

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Again, the housing market is pretty great still, and John and I really plan on this being temporary. We tend to trade in cars pretty often, so we were sort of thinking it would be more of the same for this house. Live in it a bit, and then sell in a few years and get a real house. (Not a townhouse) And then, as we all know, the housing market went to crap about 6 months after we moved in. But, the optimist I am knew that it would come back soon and we'd be able to sell for at least what we paid. I was sure of it.

& then, over the next 4.5 years, I became less sure of it. I am still very optimistic about most anything in life though. I know we won't be able to sell it for what we owe any longer, but everything always works out in the end so I don't stress about it because eventually we'll figure something out.

So then, at some point earlier this year we got one of those stupid spammy junk mail things in the mail offering a really low interest rate to refinance your home. We knew that the current interest rate was a lot lower than what we were paying because we (well John) bought back when the market was good. The flyer just gave us an estimated monthly payment on what we still owed, and it was $250 or $300 less a month. I don't think we realized how much less the payments could be with a refinance. We've both always had great credit so we knew we could get approved for the lowest rate so we decided to look into it with our current lender instead of spammy junk maily lender.

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The bank says of course you may refinance! You qualify for the lowest rate and your new payment will be $250 less a month. We are thrilled. This was our answer....get a lower mortgage payment so even if we can't sell when it comes time to do so, we will now be able to rent it out at a reasonable payment until we are able to sell one day. I make amortization charts and spreadsheets to make sure the additional fees tacked on to the loan (for the refinance) aren't going to extend the loan out much longer. I figure out we can catch back up to where we would have been had we not refinanced in 19 months, so it's a go. The bank starts the refinance for us and we get our townhouse appraised.

We are supposed to close on a Friday. On Wednesday the bank calls and tells us that they can't do the refinance. The loan got denied in underwriting. Basically, the townhouse appraised for about HALF of what we owed. The last 10 sales in our neighborhood had been foreclosures making the value of our home next to nothing so the bank said the value was less than the threshold where they would approve a refinance for this particular type of loan. Basically, it was worth too little. But wait! There is some new "Obama-fix-it-all-crap" that is out now that supposedly has no threshold restrictions and we should be able to refinance with one of those types of loans. So we start to go that route instead. Only, one of the rules of this loan is that you must stay with your same mortgage lender, and our lender then informed us that sorry! We don't do those types of loans. Crapola. We've run out of options.

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If you got through all that mumbo jumbo, great, If not, this is where we are now: We can't refinance through our bank. If we were to sell right now, we'd owe the bank nearly half of what we paid for the house just to get out of the house. Let me just give numbers. Because even though the cost of living is different throughout the U.S., I'm pretty sure that most people would have a hard time coming up with $55,000 to just hand over to the bank to get out of their current house. Not to mention then you would need a new place to live, so if anything was left over after writing a $55K check (Ha!), that would then need to go to a new house.

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So yeah, we're stuck in a two bedroom house: one bedroom for Charley and one for us. It's already super crowded and we personally wouldn't be able to have another baby in this house. Our family is on hold until we are able to move to a larger house.

Another issue we ran into was if we were to then do a short sale. The bank would have to approve it (which likely they wouldn't anyways) but, they only would even discuss options with us if we had a hardship or had trouble paying our bills. We don't. So as we're talking to the mortgage guy at our current bank, he gives us these exact words: "I hate situations like this where we really can't do anything for you. If I were you, I would stop paying my mortgage."

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What!? That's crazy talk. We talk to real estate attorneys. Brokers. Friends & family. We've never had any late payments, and I don't even wait until the 15th to pay. Our payment is always there on the first of the month. But he's put the idea in our heads. The more we talk to people, the more we hear this over and over: "You really have no choice."

And that is the sad state of affairs this country is in. It's pathetic really.

So we've decided. We stopped paying our mortgage in March. I got approved for a new loan for our new house (more on that later) by myself. John's credit is going to be ruined. Mine isn't going to be hurt at all because the house is only in his name. Thank goodness for that, or else we'd really be screwed. He's gotten some phone calls and letters from the bank, but not as much as you would think. Again, this is new territory for us. We have always been fortunate enough to be able to pay our bills timely. It's scary, really.

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Sure, we could stick it out 5 more years and hope things turn around. But, we would have to pay two mortgages each month because our family can't fit in our little house for five more years and I don't see that working with our income. We could rent it out, but like I said we'd still have to pay $300-$400/month out of our pockets to cover the mortgage based on what other townhouses in our neighborhood are renting for.

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Ultimately we had to make a decision for our family and this is what we decided. It's scary & we know that people will judge us without a doubt. But hopefully by putting our entire story out there it will be less judge-worthy. Or more? Who knows. I am actually fine with our decision now. At first I was so embarrassed that people would think we couldn't pay our bills and now? Now I'm at peace with it. We love our little house and I am actually sad to think that I won't be able to show it off at showings and open houses when we sell.

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So there. Ask questions. (Be nice to me.) I'll come back and answer anything I left out. Are you now blaming the continued failure of the housing market on me (and people like me)? I would too probably, if I were you. But, it is what it is.

& since this has gotten ridiculously long I'll write about the new house in the next post...and I won't take 2 weeks either, promise! That is, of course, if any of you stick around here with me after finding out we're house deadbeats. Can we still be friends?
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EDIT: Your questions...

Deborah asked:
How does foreclosing benefit you? Will the bank take on the entirety of the loan or will you guys still owe the difference between owed and appraised amounts?
Ahh yeah. Left this out. The foreclosure benefits us because we will no longer own the property, nor owe the mortgage. That's one of the things we talked about with the attorneys and brokers, and with NC laws and a bunch of other legal jargon that I can't remember right now, we were assured the bank could not come after us for any difference that there will be between the house and our the balance of our loan. We do pay PMI so the lender is protected. I may be explaining this one completely wrong and if you know about this stuff feel free to correct me. All I know is we are letting the bank have the house and all we are leaving with is a big hit to John's credit.


Haley asked:
You mentioned renting and the fact that you would still have had to front like $300 a month. Would it have been worth it to try and see if you could have gotten a tenant, even for just 1 year? 
We considered this, really. But, in the grand scheme of things renting for one year (plus paying the $365/month out of our own pockets) wouldn't put us in any different position than where we are right now. The housing market isn't going to rebound THAT much in one year (to make up for the $55K hole we are in) so in one year, we'd essentially be in the same position. Only, we may REALLY be in a pinch next year if we were to lose our tenant, and have our new mortgage to pay as well. We decided it wasn't worth it.


I want to add this too because I don't feel like I mentioned it. The reason we already stopped paying the mortgage is to prove "hardship" to the bank. They will not even consider hearing anything unless they think you need it. Once they come back to us in a few months with other offers (deed in lieu, short sale, etc) we will be more than willing to work with them. 


Trisha mentioned: 
I keep hearing on the radio a commercial for a lease program - they SAY they will lease out your home for up to six years even if they don't have a tenant, so you receive monthly rent payments regardless, AND this allows you to go ahead and buy yourself a new home. It's in the Raleigh area, but I'm not sure if they have it in Charlotte? Worth looking into maybe. Here's the site: http://marketplacehomes.com/ 


Thanks for letting me know! I went to the site to look at what they had to offer and it does sound promising. But, you HAVE to use one of their builders or buy one of their particular houses. Since we already have the land and builder for our new house, we wouldn't be able to use this program.



You Pick

Admittedly, I am falling off the blog wagon. So much is going on in my life, which would make you think that it would only just give me that much more to write about. But no, instead, all of my time has been taken up by the busy-ness and this has gotten pushed to the back burner. I really enjoy writing and keeping up with the blog though so I just need a little kick in the booty to get started again.

So, I thought you guys could give me the kick start I need. I have a bajillion posts saved as drafts that I just haven't finished. (I know, I tell you this all the time.) So, I can sort of give you a quick little rundown on what's been going on with me, and then you can tell me what you want me to elaborate on the very most first. If only my usual 4 or 5 blog fans vote and they vote for 5 different things, this may backfire and not work at all. Not like that hasn't ever happened around here before.

So, this was April for me:

2 weddings.
10 days in Florida with my Charley girl and my sister and nieces; also, Easter at the beach!
The Zoo.
Seeing my first movie in over 9 months.
Selling bird mobiles like crazy.
Making bird mobiles like crazier.
Willingly letting our current house move towards foreclosure.
Beginning to build a new house.
Turning 30!
Keeping up with my 365 Photo Project.
Not keeping up with Life of Lacey. (2 posts in a whole month!?)
Yard Sales.

&, probably more that I never found time to put on my calendar therefore I can't remember it. It was crazy, y'all.

So, all that being said, anything tickle your fancy? What would you like to hear about first? Or, I threw in some other blogs that are still drafts and not finished. Maybe you'd like to hear one of those first instead. It's up to you, people. I promise to post whatever you pick in the next few days!

Go! Vote! It's your civic duty!

EDIT: I had a survey here that isn't working. Instead I put it in my sidebar over there ------->, or you can just vote in the comments.