Friday, August 30, 2013

30 Before 30: Extension

So, um, yeah.  That time flew by way too fast and the deadline for my 30 before 30 has passed (or is passing today as I turn 30).

Since many of the remaining goals dealt with us getting a house (or doing something at that house, or completing a project with items that are in storage which would not be unloaded until we moved into that house) I decided to give myself an extension until the end of the year.

4 more months to try and tackle the rest of these goals.  Here's hoping I get as close as I can! 

1. Learn more about our DSLR camera (October 2011 & 2012 Photo Challenges)
2. Paint a piece of art Completed December 2011
3. Grow a flower or vegetable
4. Learn a new computer skill from Chris Completed May 2012
5. Read 20 new books (13/20)

6. Sew something Completed August 2012 (and pillow cases, more pillow cases, a class and quilt)
7. Complete a home renovation project Completed September 2012
8. Make scrapbook with postcards and photo strips from wedding
9. Make something out of polymer clay Completed December 2011

10. Travel outside of the country Completed April 2012 (CozumelBelizeRoatanGrand Cayman)
11. Plan a fun birthday trip Completed August 2013 - San Fran and Napa recap coming soon!
12. Take a road trip Completed March 2012
13. Stay at a B&B Completed August 2012
14. Experience an exciting staycation Completed June 2012

Food & Fitness
15. Get Chris to try a new veggie Completed March 2012
16. Make a new Thanksgiving dish Completed November 2011
17. Make homemade ice cream
18. Try 30 new recipes (25/30)
19. Work out 3-4 days a week for at least 2 months straight Still walking, but hit 2 months in August 2012

20. Buy a house Completed August 2013
21. Prep for a baby
22. Get a new truck for Chris Completed October 2011
23. Weed out & donate old clothes Completed December 2011

Fun Times
24. Go to a concert Completed August 2012
25. Venture back to College Station Completed July 2012
26. Go to a college football game Completed October 2012
27. Be in print Completed November 2011
28. Throw a house warming party
29. Go to Medieval Times  Completed February 2012
30. Eat something from a food truck Completed February 2012

I doubt I'll be growing a flower or veggie in the fall/winter, so here's hoping all but 1 can be crossed off by the end of the year!

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Good With The Bad

Although I love being a homeowner, this first month has not been all fun, paint and games.

First up was the toilets, they worked but we noticed they were very slow to flush and it would require more than one flush to get rid of toilet paper. Out with the old and in with 3 new high efficiency replacements.

The other was the dozy - the A/C.  When we had our inspection done our inspector told us that the return differential wasn't as much as it should have been, the downstairs unit was 8 degrees and the upstairs was 6 degrees (both should have been in the 14-22 degree range).  It was listed as a major concern and should be serviced so the HVAC systems would function properly.  We had the sellers service the systems and provide a receipt prior to closing put they said they would not repair (which was a big warning to us, but we still really loved the house so we pressed on hoping that it would hold out for a while). The A/C worked during our first night and for the next couple of weeks but it wasn't getting as cold in the house as it should.  One night I went over to meet with a window replacement guy and headed upstairs to find that it was 94 degrees...ridiculous!
The original systems from '98-'99

Trying to make a long story short, we called upon our service warranty company who did send out a local technician.  That tech saw that the outside units were frozen, unplugged them from the wall and said that someone would come out the next day once the units thawed out.  The tech the next day looked around in the attic and outside for about 45 mins before getting our service company on the phone because he needed permission to continue on.  We sent over our inspection and service receipt from sellers but in the end the warranty company said they could not cover fixing it due to there being no proof that the sellers fixed the issue, just did a tune up.

Looking up the costs of 2 new units left my jaw on the floor.  It's like buying a new car!!  I like to think that after the initial shock at the price, I handled it pretty well.  I called a couple of BBB accredited companies to discuss prices of replacements before deciding on one company to come out and check out our situation. Since our systems were so old, the standard today is much different then back in 98/99 when our systems were put in.  There was corrosion in the coils which resulted in two major leaks in our attic and at least one other leak was found in the outside unit as well.  With the old systems, its harder to find replacement parts as companies are no longer making 10 SEER systems.  Couple that with the fact that freon is no longer allowed to be used in newer systems as of 2010 (making freon replacement expensive as well), we made the decision to replace both units.

So many pieces to the puzzle

The new 16 SEER HVAC systems were costly, (I think it's one of the 3 biggest possible expenses with a house along with a new roof and foundation issues) but it needed to be done and we are very thankful to be able to be in our house without sweat running down our faces.

Our new systems that actually cool the house
Did you have any repairs or replacements in your first couple of months of owning a home?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Painting Difference

We have been busy busy painting up a storm over at the new house.

We wanted to capitalize on a mainly empty house by knocking out as many rooms as we could before the movers delivered all of our boxes and furniture.  Besides the dining room, the laundry room and the gameroom we also painted my previously neon green office (in Oslo Blue)...

And two of the three guest rooms.

We did this room in Juniper Berries, which I really loved and wanted to do in my office but I thought it might be too dark for the smaller space.

This was supposed to be a color match to Sherwin Williams Rain, but I don't see as much of the greenish tint like I did in the sample pot.

While we were painting those rooms, we left the main area and the ceiling in the dining room to the pros who finished it all in three days!

Amazing how much they can get done in a short period of time

Along with painting the main area SW Jubilee and the dining room ceiling to match the Behr Ultra Pure White that we painted on the bottom half, the painters also painted all of the doors that faced into the main areas, the trim and the staircase spindles.

The new white color for the doors on the left, the old off white on the right

I love how the Jubilee turned out in the main area, especially with the new white trim!

It has been go, go, go these past two weeks, and I'm so ready for it to slow down a little since the majority of the painting has been completed.  Now our focus is on unpacking boxes, fun fun.

Have you painted many rooms in your house?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Getting Our Yard Work On

One thing that we loved about our house, but at the same time were a little cautious about was all of the yard work.  Our house has one of the largest lots in the neighborhood and the original owners (not the couple that sold it to us) put in a ton of work in both the front and the back that sadly was not kept up by the sellers while the house sat on the market.  Because of this, there was a lot of overgrowth as well as weeds and dead bushes that just needed to go.

The front yard during our first showing

As you can see in the shot above, those 4 bushes in front are a little unruly and even block our house number.  With so many deliveries and companies coming over to give estimates on work I'm sure it's annoying for them to have to circle back because they missed the house the first time.

We also had a lot of low hanging tree branches that blocked our path to the shed and would get in the way whenever we walked on the back patio.

Throw into the mix all of the weeds, dead rose bushes with thorns sticking out everywhere and the craziness that is the back garden and we decided to enlist the help of my parents' landscaper who has been doing work for them for years.  Martin's crew came one Saturday and knocked out an enormous amount of clean up that made so much of a difference.  They left the branches in bundles on the front part of our house which we would have left except that trash pick up would not occur until Thursday and I'm sure a neighbor or the HOA would have something to say about it.  Because of this, Chris and I found ourselves lifting those large bundles into the garage.  I meant to take a shot of the bundles lining the street but I was too busy sweating like no other trying to get the work done.

I don't think this shot really showcases the amount of branches we have, but it'll have to do.  After we raked, swepted and bagged all of the little remaining pieces we were able to actually walk around the yard and be amazed at the work Martin's crew completed.

Hello house number (well at least the blurred area where the house number is)

This was taken for our "we've moved" cards before Chris' graduation.  We didn't know that Martin's team was going to be there that day, so you can see behind us where they've already removed the front bushes.

We're going to pick some other lower bushes to replace in the front, and Chris and I are thinking of some DIY work to add a little something something to the corner of our front yard that is looking a little bare.

I know now we'll need to invest in some good rakes for the fall because there will be a ton of leaves!

Do you enjoy doing yard work?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A Bold Choice

While Chris and I pick out and agree on the colors in the majority of the rooms, we did decide that we each would get complete control over one room in the house.  For me it's my office and for Chris it is his gameroom.

The other night, we headed over and knocked out another night of painting this time in his gameroom. 

Gameroom during our first showing

As I'm sure you know by now, Chris and I really love the colors blue and green.  We are trying to branch out with different colors as well - our main area will be Sherwin Williams Jubilee which is a silver gray color and you've already seen the white and juniper ash in the laundry room.  But with the gameroom as his area of full control, I kinda knew it would be a nice bold blue (Behr Bermudan Blue).  I really like the shade he picked out and with the sunlight that flows through those two windows it's actually a little lighter in person than it appears in these pictures.

You may have also noticed in the picture above a couple of ceiling fans.  Most designers may cringe at ceiling fans, but living in Texas we kinda depend on them to help battle the heat.  Chris the handyman went around upstairs, removed the boob lights and installed the fans in each of the guest rooms.

I love the additional light in each of these rooms and the fans help push the cold air from the vents.

As we move items over from my parents' house and clear out our storage shed, we'll continue to piece together Chris' gameroom which will include updating the single light with a remote ceiling fan.

Do you have any bold colors in your home?

Monday, August 12, 2013

Stripes Make Me Smile

I'm loving the stripes that we just finished in our laundry room!

But while actually creating these stripes, we were doing anything but smiling.  I now know why people tend to do stripes in small rooms or on accent walls because it is so much work!

I'm not going to lie, I was ready to throw in the towel about 10 mins into this project as we struggled to figure out the spacing, number of stripes and getting the laser level to stick.

I have to give so much credit to Chris who soldiered on when I was ready to call it a night, putting up the majority of the tape around the room.

I was naive to think that we could knock this out in one night.  Once we were both off of work, and made a trip to home depot before heading over to the house it took us until 11 pm to finish the taping.  The worst part is that this room is so small and to do the stripes around the room we would have to close the door making it so hot!

Since Chris had to close the next night (our last night before the washer and dryer would be delivered), I went over and painted all of the stripes alone.  My dad had already painted over the original beige with Behr Ultra Pure White, and we decided on Juniper Ash for the stripes.  The painting was super easy, and I'm a little addicted to pulling off the tape so that was the part I looked forward to the most.

A couple of hours later and the room was ready and waiting for our new washer and dryer!

There are still some items we would like to do to this room.  I would like to change out the old school light and Chris is planning on creating a couple of shelves to go in place of the current one that has warped paint peeling from it.  

For now though, I'm just weirdly looking forward to doing the first real load of laundry.

Do you have any rooms with stripes?  If so is it a small room or accent wall?

Monday, August 5, 2013

Our First Night

What a busy weekend!!

After receiving our keys on Friday, I got to work making a list of things that we needed to get in order to stay the night at our house.  One of the more important items was to pick up an air mattress so we wouldn't have to sleep on the floor.

We hit up the grocery store to get some essentials like paper goods, toilet paper, bottled water and some ice for the cooler since the prior owners took their fridge with them.  We packed up both of our cars and headed over to the house, the excitement was finally starting to take over!

I drove up first, ready to pull into the garage and was greeted with junk blocking my way. When moving the box of leftover closet hangers and wood, we also found out that they left the trash cans completely filled so we won't be able to use it until our next trash day.  Throughout the house we learned that the sellers left several items, some good (a ladder, yard tools, fire extinguishers, light bulbs, instruction manuals), some not so great (broken lamps, old paint, old posters) and one with some potential - a large artificial Christmas tree! Once things die down a bit, I'm going to see how it looks before deciding if we get rid of it.

Once we dropped off our bags, we made our first of several runs to Home Depot.  I can't tell you how happy I am that the Home Depot and Lowes are only about 5 mins from our house!  We stocked up on some additional paint supplies, putty, shelf liners and a step stool before heading back in time for the pizza delivery.  (On a side note, I really like Domino's feature of ordering online early and setting it up for a later delivery time). Eating pizza the first night reminded me of my family's move from Pennsylvania to Texas, standing around our kitchen island enjoying some Pizza Hut before our camp out in our new house. We popped a bottle of Champagne and toasted to our first night.

After dinner on the floor (note to self - take some chairs over), we decided to start painting our dining room.  Thanks to Pinterest, the idea to paint the dining room half color and half white under the chair rail stuck in my head.  Chris was totally on board, so our overnight painting session was on!  We knocked out the white half first (Behr Ultra Pure White) before moving onto the bluish color on top.  Unfortunately, I don't know the name of the Behr paint, because it was a can of oops paint that I picked up for $7 over a year ago.

The dining room before

Just painting the white half gave the room a fresh feeling.

Although it was late, we decided to start on the blue half, finishing up around 1 am.  We called it a night since Chris had to work in the morning, and I finished the second coat on Saturday after hitting up Home Depot to color match the paint and get another gallon.

The iPhone doesn't really do the color justice, so I snapped a couple of shots with my DSLR on Sunday.

As you can see, the blue varies from different angles.  I finished up painting inside all of the windowsills on Sunday while Chris replaced two out of three of our toilets.  This was one of those fun unexpected to do items.  We noticed that the toilets were old and having a really hard time flushing simple toilet paper so we went ahead and purchased high efficiency replacements. 

Out with the old, 1 more to change out

And one more shot after the drops cloths were removed.

The room is still in progress as we have decided to paint over the beige ceiling.  Since we are planning on having professionals handle the painting in our 2 story main areas, we'll leave the vaulted dining room ceiling to the pros as well.  We also need to paint the doors that lead to the kitchen and the floorboard trim as the beige really sticks out next to the crisp white.  Now for a side by side comparison.

Chris and I both agree that painting has helped to feel like it's our home and not just someone else's house that we will be living in.  I was sore as anything after our first weekend of work, but I'm excited to work on other rooms before the movers are scheduled to come.

What did you do the first night/weekend in your home?

Friday, August 2, 2013

30 Before 30: Buy A House

We finally got the keys and are now official homeowners!!

Can't wait to get started on that to do list once we get in tonight!

The recap of our house hunting journey is here and I've now added a tab for the house tour on top so you can see how the rooms change over time!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Hunting Houses: The Final Chapter

After all of the stress from the pool, I was hoping to just cruise to closing.  Just our luck, there would be no cruising.

This time around the reason for my stress (to potential rage) was our homeowner's insurance.  I first contacted the same group that has done my parents home and car insurance for years (they actually worked with another office before that guy retired and gave his clients to this office) back on July 1.  July 2nd we had our policy quote and I was told the inspector would be ordered the next day.  Days go by and I hear nothing so I follow up to get the response "what? they haven't contacted you for an inspection yet?"  Um, isn't that your job?  Finally get the inspection scheduled for July 15, and then the inspector cancels that morning.  I'm just a little ticked at this point, but they get it rescheduled for Friday, July 19.

The weekend rolls by and I call for an update on Monday and Tuesday.  By this time, I'm freaking out because our loan can't go to underwriting without proof of insurance.  I finally get ahold of the manager of the agency office and I'm pretty sure the shit hit the fan at that point.  With the manager now involved, he was working up the chain of command to get our policy completed that day, Wednesday July 24.  Exactly one week before we were scheduled to close.

By this time, I have gone through the range of emotions.  Angry, Nervous, Stressed Out. I just couldn't believe that something relatively simple like homeowner's insurance could potentially delay our closing.

Finally, finally at 2 pm I received word that the proof of insurance was on it's way to our lender.  The lender was able to push through underwriting (in 24 hours!) to get the approval and our closing went as scheduled on July 31!

Although we signed all of the docs on Wednesday, we won't be getting the keys until later since the title company has to wait for the hard copies to be overnighted from the out of state sellers.

Similar to Marge Simpson's response to the best family vacation at Itchy and Scratchy Land, this home buying experience was exciting and emotional.  Now let us never speak of it again.