May 19, 2015 12:36 pm

Adventures in homebuying

Renting is kind of insane in my hometown – it’s often cheaper to purchase a home than it is to rent one. We got preapproved for a loan recently and while our monthly payments would be higher than what we’re paying right now, they’re several hundred dollars cheaper than it’d be to rent a house. After salivating over houses online for the past eleventy years, we finally started going out and viewing some potential homes.

We’ve looked at a few duds so far. One was cute and had a nice kitchen, but it felt small and kind of dark and was in a weird location. Another was super small – a one-bedroom with something they called an “office or non-conforming bedroom” that was basically a glorified closet and MIGHT have fit a twin bed inside but nothing else, and every room felt like it was desperately trying to be a different kind of room. The living room felt like the master bedroom, the master felt like a utility room that would have housed a water heater, etc. It did, however, have a gorgeous giant cast-iron sink with double dish drainboards. I wanted to take it home with me.

Then we happened upon what I’ll call the Park house. Park house was listed at the top end of our (very modest) budget, but was across the street from a popular park and had a big, pretty, landscaped yard. I’ll begin by saying the yard was truly the best part of the house. It needed a lot of cosmetic updates inside, and while it did have a new gas stove and some newer laminate flooring, it had a LOT of structural issues. The bathroom floor was squishy and the tub surround was in pieces and held in with aluminum foil. It needed a new roof. It needed new siding.

The upstairs was half finished bedroom and half unfinished attic, but the floor was INSANELY BOUNCY and made me run screaming from the room when my dad jumped on it to test it. You could feel the whole house shake! The stairs weren’t up to code and had a really short run, so your whole foot wasn’t able to fit on the stair and you felt like you were tripping the whole way up. It didn’t have any closets anywhere in the whole house.

It also had that old tile in one of the bedrooms that had vermiculite (asbestos!) adhesive underneath, and the siding was all asbestos as well. POISON HOUSE!

On the bright side, it had a nice flow from the living room to the dining room to the covered deck and then the big backyard.

I made pro/con lists and everything on my pro list were things like “I like the doorknobs” and everything on the con list was like “NEEDS NEW ROOF IMMEDIATELY.”

We temporarily lost our minds did make an offer on it, but they countered with more than we felt the house was worth, so we walked away. Whew! Park house was in a nice location but oh my god, literally everything else was wrong with it.

A few weeks later, I stumbled across what I’ll call the Reach house. It was listed for roughly $20K more than our budget allowed, but it was an older house that looked like it might have needed some updates, so I requested to see it just for comparison purposes. It wasn’t anything fancy, but it did have a massive fenced backyard.

We went to go see it. Reach house reminded me of many Portland rentals – structurally sound but old and lots of painted wood. It had a mudroom (where we could store our stroller and bike trailer instead of them taking up space in my living room), and a cute entryway and hardwood floors and a normal staircase.

It had a long-lasting metal roof, the siding was fine, and none of the floors were squishy or bouncy. The yard had some raised-bed gardens chock full of healthy looking strawberry plants. It had a washer, dryer, and dishwasher! And a broom closet! A dutch door to the kitchen! A shop for storage!

There are several things I’m kind of iffy about still – it has a shower enclosure but no tub, which will suck for bathing a baby. It has baseboard heating, which is expensive, AND it only has two baseboards to heat the entire house. I predict we will freeze to death in the winter unless we install a gas fireplace or something right away. The kitchen is made for tall people – I can only reach one cabinet easily, so I guess that’ll be the dishes cabinet and to hell with the rest. The downstairs bedroom has a big sliding door to nowhere.

BUT!

Our realtor let us know that the seller was about to drop the price on it, which then made it within the realm of possibility. We offered an amount squarely within our budget, and the seller countered with a price a little above it. My parents offered to help cover the difference (which is SUPER NICE OF THEM! Thanks Mom and Dad!) and we accepted.

AAAAAAAAAAAH!

We just had the inspection done and there are a few things we should fix (like one of the support beams under the house is just… lying on the ground) but overall it seems pretty solid. I doubt we’d find a better option in our price range if we kept looking – especially not a three-bedroom house in the neighborhood we’d like.

If we do get it, I plan on blogging some of the updates we plan on making because we’ll be doing a lot of the work ourselves. (Well, with my dad and uncle since they actually know what they’re doing.) I’m excited to learn how paint rooms and patch drywall and I want to get a fancy power saw and re-do a lot of the super-basic molding and baseboards. This little house has so much potential and I think it’s a great option for us.

This is all very new and exciting. We have our fingers crossed that it works out!

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May 14, 2015 10:38 pm

StitchFix Box #2

I received my second StitchFix box today! I didn’t request the same stylist this time (though I’ve heard you can!) and for content, I basically requested “fancy t-shirts.”

Page Flutter Sleeve Blouse by Skies Are Blue

When I opened my StitchFix box, I knew this shirt wasn’t going to work for me but I gamely tried it on anyway. The front view was okay, if a little “Floridian grandma,” but the side view is where things really got bad:

That style of pleating high on the chest has never done much for me – it tends to make me look like I’m trapped in a drawstring sack – and this was no exception. Plus, it was very sheer and made from a semi-crinkly polyester-type fabric that didn’t feel very nice to the touch. I don’t know, I feel like I’ve got a ton of years at the end of my life to look like a shapeless Floridian grandma – I don’t need to start now.

Verdict: RETURN

Aiden Skinny Jean by Mavi

aiden-skinny-jean

These were a really fun reddish coral color! (The last photo in this blog post is a better representation of the color – they’re bold but they’re not THIS bold in person.) They would go great with navy shirts (of which I have several) and they were nice and soft. I tried them on with the two pairs of knee-high boots I have and I was surprised that I wasn’t in love with how they looked with either – I have black and cognac brown and they both looked weird to me. I need my skinny jeans to be able to be worn with at least one of those pairs of boots or else I won’t survive winter! I had a hard time deciding whether or not to send these back, but ultimately, I decided that I do like the color a lot and it’d go with a lot of stuff in my closet, but for the price I’d like to get something I really want, not just something I’m like “ehh, that’s nice” about.

That said… my stylist indicated that next time, she could size up and send me the Emer brand kelly green pants if I wanted? and oh my heck, YES, PLEASE DO. I am dying for kelly green pants. I liked these coral ones, but for $98 I’d rather have the green pants!

Verdict: RETURN, but I was conflicted about it

Marisol Mixed Material Knit Top by Papermoon

Curse you, boobs! This was another shirt that could have been cute, but was supremely unflattering on me in practice. If it could be nipped in at the waist in the back it might work, but as-is I wasn’t into it. The front was a very soft, stretchy denim-type fabric that reminded me of baby jeggings (in a good way) and the back was a lightweight woven fabric. The neckline was a leeeetle high for me but nothing bad, and I liked the polka dots. It was just… super unshapely and I know that I am roundish but egads. NO.

Verdict: RETURN

Ohara Faux Wrap Tie-Waist Dress

ohara-faux-wrap-tie-waist-dress

This wrap dress is a total winner! I’m always a little nervous about cross-front dresses and tops because they have a tendency to be super low-cut, but this one wasn’t. It fit over my boobs nicely and didn’t shift around. I also love that it has 3/4 sleeves! The print is fun and the color is fun and the dress was really comfortable. I’ll have to figure out what shoes to wear with it because all mine looked terrible but I am up for the challenge.

Verdict: KEEP!

Corinna Striped Dolman Top by Market & Spruce

corinna-striped-dolman-top

I knew this one was a keeper right out of the box! I have a thing for navy shirts with white stripes already, but I’ve never had a Dolman-sleeve top before. I liked the tunic length and the cuffs on the sleeves – they’re just the right length for pushing up a little bit. After having read a bunch of StitchFix reviews on other blogs, I have a feeling that I know a few people who would have sent this back because the fabric is leaning toward being sweatery and we’re right at the beginning of summer, but good grief. Who cares? Fall will be here soon enough and in the meantime I can wear it on cooler days. I love it!

Verdict: KEEP! I already wore it to work!

——

My stylist left a really nice note and thanked me for my “helpful and extensive profile notes,” haha! I am glad somebody found it useful! I just figure more information is better than less – if you don’t know that I would never spend money on a giraffe-print sweater and you send it to me and I sent it right on back, we’ve just wasted everyone’s time. Better to know ahead of time and not bother sending it.

I’ll probably wait a while before getting another Fix because we are in the middle of possibly buying a house (AAAAH!) and Fixes are a splurge for me spending-wise, but now I can’t stop thinking about getting those green pants.

If you want to try StitchFix, you can use my referral link and I’ll get $25 credit and be endlessly thankful.

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May 3, 2015 9:53 pm

Thora’s Birthday Crown

Thora will turn one this Wednesday and to celebrate, I wanted to make her a keepsake felt crown. I saw some nice ones on Etsy that I took some inspiration from, and then remembered that Jessica had written a Waldorf felt crown tutorial a loooong time ago so I started there.

First birthday prep. Not bad for my first attempt at a felt flower!

I bought my ribbon on Etsy – a good search term is “floral jacquard ribbon” – and used that as my color scheme. My local Waldorfy store had some lovely 100% wool felt sheets and I bought colors that matched my ribbon. I highly, HIGHLY recommend splurging on the nice 100% wool felt. This project would have been way harder and looked a lot less nice if I had used the cheapy stuff.

Using Jessica’s pattern, I lengthened the pattern piece B (the crown part) vertically by an inch or so because I wanted to make sure there’d be enough room for the name oval and the ribbon, and I cut the pattern piece out on the fold so I didn’t have to stitch the bottom together. I also made the middle point a weensy bit taller than the side ones because I liked how that looked.

Using my computer, I found a font I liked (and now I can’t even remember what it was called – it started with an L) and typed Thora’s name using it. I held a piece of paper to my computer screen and traced the letters onto a piece of paper, cut them out, then used the paper as a stencil to trace the letters onto a sheet of felt. Then I painstakingly cut out every letter using a teensy pair of embroidery scissors. (I do have a Cricut and there is probably a way to use a Cricut to cut the felt but I’m not very experienced with it yet and it seemed more trouble than it’d have been worth so I didn’t try it.) I Tacky glued the letters to the ivory oval and then blanket-stitched the oval to the front of the crown.

Then I looked up “felt flower” tutorials on Pinterest and found ones like this and this and used one of my accent colors for the flower. I used Tacky glue to actually glue the flower spiral together and then embroidered some French knots in the center to give it some character.

Felt Birthday Crown

For assembly, I followed Jessica’s instructions for the elastic strap and ended up stitching the bottom of the ribbon onto the crown, sewing up the sides of the crown to trap the elastic band between the felt layers, and then sewing the top of the ribbon on. That way, I had the crown all stitched together except the pointy parts at the top, meaning I could attach all my decorations to the front piece and then have the stitches hidden when I sewed it to the back piece.

After I stitched the flowers on, I wanted to use the blue and orange accent colors so I cut out some little orange circles and blue hearts and stitched them on, kind of under the flowers so they felt like one whole group.

Once all my decorations were on, I machine stitched the pointy parts of the crown closed. Voila!

Felt Birthday Crown

There are a few things I’d do differently, like using 1″ elastic for the back vs the… 1/2″? I had on hand. Either that or make the casing way smaller. The elastic tends to twist around in there and I find that annoying. I’d also maybe match my casing fabric to my crown better, but ehh. Small potatoes. I’m really pleased with how it came out and I’ve had several people tell me they want their own or that I should take commissions!

Happy first birthday, Thora! I hope you like your crown.

Queen Thora does not approve of photos.

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