Friday, August 28, 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
Anyway, the next day I went out on my own, because I haven't been out of the house alone for a long time. I saw a sign for a garage sale and impulsively stopped by, then I remembered that I'd seen a Craigslist ad for another sale four blocks away that mentioned toys and, specifically, Barbies, so I decided to go to that one, too. I had seen the garage sale ad for a few weeks, and there was so much stuff that at first I thought they were buying storage units and selling estates, but the guy told me they had a basement full of stuff to bring out yet, so maybe borderline hoarder? I saw at least three original Little People buildings (hospital, Sesame Street, and farm, if you were wondering) and lots of '80s stuffed animals. There was an E.T. lamp. But all of that is beside the point, which was that I saw what I thought was this house.
Turns out, it was actually two of this house.
You can see where I might be confused, maybe? The houses came with a big bag of parts, which I thought might connect the two "halves" somehow. I didn't really remember what the 1978 dream house looked like, and I had never heard of the 1982 dream cottage. But oh well; this works just fine, too.
I cleaned it up and cut a piece of foam core to connect the two houses. So far this is what we have.
There's only one set of each kind of doors (French and sliding) and they are both on one house right now, the one set up as a foyer.
I don't know what the hell that thing is supposed to be. It came in the Barbie Glamtastic set in the living room section. I assume it is supposed to be some sort of decorative room divider? Anyway, I go back and forth on keeping this as a foyer. I love foyers, but does Barbie really need one? Maybe not. But it's kind of small for a living room. If it becomes a living room, I'll probably move the sliding doors in the back over to the bedroom house and put a fireplace in this spot. Here's a view from the side.
There's not much point in having the sliding doors in either spot since the piece of wood this whole setup is sitting on isn't really big enough for Barbie to have a backyard (the room isn't big enough for it, either), but there's no point in taking them out, either. Barbie will be getting a roof deck; she doesn't need a backyard.
Here's the living room/kitchen area.
This was supposed to include a dining room, but there's just not enough space, and since we don't have a Barbie dining room table I don't really care. Baby Girl doesn't either; she and Barbie mostly just open and close the sliding doors and sit on the toilet.
I might build a ceiling for this area, which will, of course, allow more space for rooftop furniture.
Barbie's bedroom. This is super small. If Barbie ever upgrades to a double bed, we'll be in trouble. I forgot to take a specific picture, but you can kind of see the bathroom furniture above the bedroom. Who doesn't want an al fresco toilet? I have the railings that go around the top there, and the roof panels to extend the space, but Baby Girl won't allow me to put the railings on and she stepped on one of the panels and cracked it about five minutes after I brought it into the house, so I don't really want to put it on lest it be broken even further.
Sorry for the blurry picture. The cat couldn't decide if she wanted to be in it or not, so I just grabbed this before she came over to lick my face again.
This little space was supposed to be the bathroom, but I think I might slide the whole thing down and build a carport over on the other side of the foyer. Barbie's got three cars that need a space to park.
The next time we go out I'm going to grab some little LED battery-powered stick-on lights and put them in the two houses. If I build a fireplace I'll put a flickering light in that in the form of a battery-powered tea light. When I was little I had this Barbie TV (well, I don't think it was Mattel, but it was fashion doll scale) that had a flickering light in it; maybe I'll build one of those, too. I also need to build columns to hold the roof panels level since the original columns are missing. I might take out the roof panel in the center in order to put that ceiling in and also to avoid columns in the middle of the living room.
What do you think? Foyer or living room? Ceiling or don't bother? Baby Girl is three and will, of course, play with it like it is, but a big part of the reason I bought this was to have a place for all the Barbie furniture, so the more floor space the better, as far as I'm concerned.
Friday, June 26, 2015
I've been trying to come up with a list of goals for this summer. Other than a few things around the house and making Baby Girl some clothes, I'm coming up blank. Maybe that's my brain trying to tell me something, that I should just be lazy. Or maybe it's just that I am lazy? I could go either way, really. We've walked to the park a few times. Ballerina Minnie came along on this trip.
The pool is up at my mom's house. We bought a sand filter for it this year, and it's taking forever to really clear up, which I guess is typical. Still annoying. The kids don't mind, but I feel like I'm swimming in a lake.
We've been working on potty training Baby Girl for about three weeks now. I'm sure those one- to three-day potty "boot camps" work for some kids, but they haven't worked for mine or anyone I know. She could not care less. I've offered her kittens, puppies, candy, ice cream, toys, anything I can think of. She perks up at the idea of ice cream (she's lactose intolerant, so we have to get her special lactose-free ice cream and it takes her forever to go through a carton because she's one three-year-old and I won't let the boys steal it from her) but when I talk about not using diapers anymore and just using the potty, she ignores me or decides she'd rather not or something. Who knows? She's got amazing bladder control so there aren't many messes to clean up, she just holds it. I'm sure that's super good for her health-wise.
B is at a friend's house for the evening, so I'm watching movies and reading blogs. A pretty good Friday night, if you ask me. Now I'm going to get back to Guardians of the Galaxy.
Friday, May 29, 2015
Anyway, we're getting ready for the end of the school year now; their last day is next Friday. That'll be a huge weight off my shoulders. To say that this hasn't been Yaya's best year would be a massive, black hole-sized understatement. Next year he starts middle school, and I really need a break before we start on that battle. He and I both do.
B is supposed to be getting a raise at work to go along with the new job he got like a year ago. I mean, he got a raise when he got that job, and he's gotten a few little raises since, but they're redoing all their job titles and descriptions and pay grades, which is supposed to lead to a raise and him moving from hourly to salaried. I think he's kind of annoyed with me because I'm not jumping up and down, but we don't even know how much money it will be yet and this was all supposed to happen at the beginning of May. So I'm not counting my chickens before they're hatched. I can't hold my breath for that long.
The house hunt, even though I just wrote about it two weeks ago, is kind of on hold. (It actually started in March, so it's been going on for longer than it seems.) I had set a deadline for myself of June 15, that if we couldn't find a house by then we wouldn't have enough time to sell our house and move by mid-August. At this point I'm just tired and I feel like two weeks isn't going to make a difference, especially given that we know our house will be difficult to sell. I don't even know how people do this. Are they just finding really great houses straight out of the gate? Are they carrying two mortgages? Becoming landlords? I don't understand it.
I feel like all I'm doing is complaining, and I guess as far as this post is concerned I might be. I guess it's true what they say that the negatives stick with you longer. I've spent the better part of the day cleaning and decluttering the house, so my nerves are a little calmed without stuff lying around everywhere. Of course Phyllis Diller was totally right when she said that cleaning the house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the sidewalk before it starts snowing, but sometimes you've got to suck it up and do work you know will be almost immediately undone, if only for your own sanity.
We're hoping to get some scrap metal out of the yard this weekend. It's been waiting for a few months but with Yaya having tae kwan do fairly late on Saturday morning kind of limits some of the stuff we can do. We tried to get a scrapper to come pick it up but apparently it wasn't enough. It's probably going to take us three trips to get it all there, so I don't know what would be enough for them. Oh well.
I hope everyone has a good weekend. My Friday night is going to involve either a Property Brothers or Hoarders marathon (I just found out they kept broadcasting it on Lifetime, it wasn't just reruns) and cats on my lap keeping me from getting up, oh no.
Tuesday, May 12, 2015
1. A foyer
This is first because it, I think more than any other item on this list, immediately eliminates so many houses. And I mean a real foyer, not the 4x6 entry in our current house and in pretty much every other split level. I also can't stand walking directly into a living room. It's just so abrupt. Also, living in the midwest, it's nice to have a little bit of a space where the cold or hot air from outside can stay and dissipate a bit instead of being dumped directly into our living space. That said, I do go back and forth on this one. Not enough to where I think I might seriously consider a house that goes right into a 12x12 living room, but maybe a living room that runs the length of the house could work. I also waver because I know, intellectually, that it's not ideal to pay for space that will be empty most of the time. It's higher taxes and higher utilities. Emotionally I don't find that argument very convincing, but that doesn't stop me from looking longingly at houses that would work if they just had a foyer.
2. Four bedrooms
This is probably tied with number three for the next item that knocks so many houses out of the running. Three bedrooms are probably the most common, with two bedrooms next, then four, then one, then five and up. This is based on my unofficial observation of the listings, so take it for what it's worth. Anyway, I plan to try and get around this by looking for a three-plus--basically, a house that has three bedrooms and a den or something. I'd love to have four true bedrooms (closets!), but I feel like if I held out for a four bedroom with all the other things on this list I'd be waiting a while. Our current bedroom is in the semi-finished part of the basement and that's taught me that I really don't want to do that again, so that's pretty much my only requirement for the fourth bedroom space right now: not in an unfinished basement.
3. Hobby rooms for me and B
B and I both have hobbies that take up a lot of space, therefore we both want rooms to house all our hobby-related crap. In B's case, that could be a formal dining room, since he does have a lot of D&D crap but they're mostly miniatures, so he only really needs a space with a table once or twice a month. He has a hideous table right now, but we'd like to get him a custom table at some point in the future so that whatever room he has doesn't look so bad. Alternatively, he could use space in the basement, which is probably where I'll be relegated. I could also use the formal dining room as a sewing room, but I'd rather not. We'd also like to have space for a toy room, but if my space is big enough it can just be put in there. If not, maybe some awesome storage in the living room (which will be bigger than our current living room because 12x12 is not big enough, especially when there's only really three walls).
4. A large yard
This is almost directly at odds with number seven (an older house with character), at least where I live. I assume that a lot of the older houses here were originally on larger plots of land, which were sold off or seized via eminent domain or whatever, but seriously, it's like there was absolutely no consideration for leaving the lot at a livable, useful size. There are a lot of older houses on 3500 square foot lots, which is just about the absolute minimum lot size you can have and still put a house on it. In fact, if the house ever burned down, I'm not sure that we could even rebuild, because the lot has to be at least 40 feet wide for that. Many aren't. Our current lot is roughly 7500 square feet (.17 acres) and that's pretty much the minimum that I will accept in a new house. This isn't always foolproof, though, as this town has several hilly areas where the houses have half-acre plots with 80% of the space unusable because it's at a 35 degree angle.
5. A rural or at least quiet location
Ideally, I want a house in the country. I live in the midwest so this is like any space within five minutes of my current house. But there are two parts of town--coincidentally the two where the most available houses are--where the houses are so close together that you can practically reach out your window and touch your neighbor's house. I saw one listing where the houses were so close together that there was space for a paver path down the gap between them and that was it. I think you would have to turn sideways to use it. I can't stand that; just the thought makes me claustrophobic. To find a truly rural house, or a house in one of the rural subdivisions, will be a feat. Those houses were mostly built later on, and they're larger and more expensive. Every once in a while a foreclosure or an estate will come up in that area that we could afford at the top of our budget, but almost certainly not in the much lower price range that I want now. Also a lot of them are three bedroom split entries.
6. In our current school district but not our current neighborhood, or maybe in the city where B works
These two are kind of the exact opposite of each other, which is how I roll on a lot of things. Basically, for some reason our neighborhood was not built with a storm drain system. I don't know why, since it was built in the '60s and, I'm told, to be compliant with HUD guidelines so that soldiers from the nearby air base would be able to buy here. I don't know if there are HUD guidelines related to storm drains, but it seems like something they'd cover. But anyway, with the wet weather the past few summers, we almost can't go outside from about April to October without getting swarmed by mosquitoes. They don't bother B or the kids as much as they do me. I guess my blood is really tasty. We once got fleas (yay pets) and it was the same with them. B got no bites; I was covered as high as they could jump. Anyhoo, besides not having storm drains, at the end of our street there is a large depression that fills with water every time it rains and sits there until it evaporates. So it's a huge mosquito breeding ground one house down. We can keep them down a bit at our house by spraying, and taking out the dead juniper bushes in the front probably helped a lot (peonies, I love you, but you're next) but we can't take walks or have the windows on the car down or anything like that. This bothers me more than it bothers anyone else, because I do like to work in the yard and I can't. At all. For half the year.
Our current school district covers this subdivision, two trailer parks, and a lot of the more rural areas. The same rural areas I mentioned in number five, where we basically can't afford to live. Open enrollment is an option, but one I'd rather not take. If we do, we'd be looking at leaving Mr. Man in the current district and enrolling Yaya in whatever district we actually live in. That will probably be a huge pain, though--different days off, different start and stop times, etc etc. But if we open enroll either of them, then he doesn't qualify for transportation and I know from experience that picking him up every day will take a ton of gas, time, and mileage, and minimizing the use of all that was one reason we're considering moving in the first place. (Note: I'm not actually sure that open enrolling Mr. Man will negate his ability to qualify for transportation, since it says he needs transportation in his IEP, but I think logically we shouldn't count on it.)
As far as living in the other city, the main problem I have with that is that the houses that I like are all in the older part of the city. That's not a problem in and of itself, but it's the older part of the city that the city government has basically given up on. There's lots of crime, streets don't get plowed as well or at all, potholes don't get fixed, etc etc. As far as the crime, I generally believe that if you mind your own business you'll be safe from most violent crime, but these places have a lot of property crime, and I have a husband and children that are constantly leaving cars unlocked, doors open, bikes out of the garage, etc etc. I don't think it'll be a good fit for us. It is easier to find houses that fit most of my requirements over there, but they're either really far from B's job (so we might as well stay over here), they're split levels, or they're more than I want to spend.
7. An older house with character
This could be either an old old house--Victorian, Craftsman, what have you--or a midcentury house. Midcentury modest is all well and good, but I'd love a midcentury modern. There are a very few around--more in B's work city than here--and we can't afford most of them if they even come on the market. They're new enough that the original or second owners still live in them, and apparently most continue to do so until they die and the house is sold as an estate. So I'm not holding my breath for one of those to pop up.
8. Hasn't been remuddled, or at least not too badly
If you're unfamiliar with the term, remuddling is a combination of the words remodeling and muddling. It means when someone has remodeled a house with no consideration of its original character and style, and it can also refer to someone doing a bad job of that. It makes me want to cry when I see a house built in 1910 that has been stripped of all its original character. I expect the kitchens and bathrooms to be from any decade between the '60s and '90s (a '40s version is a welcome surprise even if it's not original), but when I see one that's had all the original trim, doors, and staircase taken out for some (presumably terrible) reason and replaced with 3" trim from Home Depot and slab doors, it just hurts my heart. I can work with kitchens and bathrooms, or even when one part of the house has had the trim replaced, but when it's the entire thing? I mean, it's doable, but it's overwhelming and it would be expensive, too. And yes, there is at least one house on the market here that has had this done.
9. No structural issues
This one is kind of self-explanatory: as B says, we already own a house with foundation issues; why would we buy another one? I say that if the price is right it wouldn't be unreasonable to spend $10k on helical plates or whatever. Although that is a slippery slope; we'd get an estimate before making an offer, of course, but I know not every structural issue is only going to cost $10k, and there's also the possibility that it could be worse than it looks. Siding a large-ish two story house might be closer to $15k, and there's one house on the market here with a collapsed basement wall that I am guessing will cost closer to $40k. It's been on the market for a while. (Of course, I'm fully aware that there will be a lot of people avoiding our house for this exact reason, but our neighborhood is supposedly pretty sought-after, the price will reflect the problem, and we do have an estimate available for people to see.)
10. Cheaper than our current house. This one is totally optional, of course, but the two big reasons I even started thinking about moving this year were: a, to move to the city where B works to shorten commute time, mileage, wear and tear, and possibly even to allow us to get down to one car; and b, to find a cheaper house. I think that we could find a house for about 25% less than we paid for this one if we were willing to deal with really ugly finishes, and I don't mind that at all. It kind of goes along with the no remuddling above: to me, there is no such thing as a move-in ready house. I will always want to paint, and I will probably always want to change flooring and light fixtures (unless they're original; they usually aren't). To me, almost all kitchens need to be gutted, as do almost all bathrooms. It's no difference to me if I'm tearing out new mosaic backsplash (can't stand the stuff) or if I'm tearing out 1980s tile with ducks in bonnets on it.
11. Not a split entry.
(All the split entries on Pinterest are nicer than my house, not surprisingly.) Split entries are super common around here, both in our city and in the city where B works. If we were OK with split entries we could go out and buy ten right now. (Well, we couldn't afford ten, but you know what I mean--there are a ton of them available.) I have grown to absolutely hate our split entry, to a degree that I can't quite explain. I shudder whenever I see real estate listing pictures of that railing wall overlooking the front door. It's just...ugh. I can't stand it. Do I still look at the listings, hoping that maybe this four bedroom split entry listed for $80,000 could be The One I Can Tolerate? Of course. But it never is. At that price I should just build a wall. A split level might be OK, to a certain extent, but most of the split levels that aren't split entries dump you right into a tiny living room, so that brings us back to number one on the list.
Other things that are so rare that I don't even bother including them, just count them as bonuses when they come up: fully fenced with a 6' privacy fence (for our dog who climbs fences; she has a trolley tie out but this would be nice), south-facing windows (light is a must but south-facing is optional), an awesome midcentury time capsule house or a Victorian time capsule or a Craftsman time capsule or...basically any time capsule house (defined by me as a house with original or very old finishes in good shape that I actually want to keep), play structure already in the yard, two full bathrooms (it's easier to redo a shower or tub when you have another shower or tub to use), and a screened porch (I grew up with one and have always wanted one).
If there's anyone still reading, let me ask you a question: having a list like that, that you know is going to be difficult to fulfill, would you sell your house before you had a house to buy so that it would be easier to buy your "dream house," should it ever appear on the market? This is what B wants to do. I'm leery. For reasons I can't go into here, if we sell this house we cannot save the money we make from it, we'd have to use it to pay bills or whatever. So how would we even be able to buy when the time came with no down payment? The down payment money we get from selling this place won't be much, but it'll be something more than zero. We would be living with my mom in the meantime. She has a big house, but there's already three people living there and I think another family of five would be pushing it. Big time. I think we'd be better off fixing the foundation and trying again another year, although I'd hate it. What would you do?
Monday, April 20, 2015
So here we go on a photo journey through my failure. Oh, and a note about the pictures: some of these are from my camera, but once I got going I forgot to take pictures except the few times I took cell phone pictures to send to my mom to keep her up to date on how big of a mistake this was. I am not a good blogger.
First up, the backsplash had to go.
No turning back now! Well, I mean, I could still keep the countertops, but...
Nope, no turning back. Setback number one: this is not particleboard or MDF or whatever the hell the underlayment in the Pinterest project was. It was wood. Stupid 1960s construction. But maybe it's planks! I mean, plywood existed well before 1968 so it's probably not, but it might be, right?
So at this point, I was still confident. I mean, the plywood was very dry and splintery and, not to put too fine a point on it, shitty. But I persevered because what choice did I have?
I had to stop because that counter is in the darkest area of the kitchen and it was getting dark, so I decided to use the evening to do some research. The general consensus on the internet is that you should just rip out laminate countertops rather than try and restrip and replace the laminate, unless you very recently applied the laminate. If that's the case, you can use heat or acetone to get the laminate off. Well, 47 years ago isn't recent, but I decided to give acetone a shot. It worked, kind of. I mean, the laminate did come up easier. But it also came up in smaller pieces, and the front was flaking apart from the back. I kept on, though, until I tore a huge chunk of plywood out. Like, almost entirely through the entire board huge. And you know I forgot to take a picture. I can patch a lot of stuff, especially if I were still planning to paint. But when I saw that hole, I was just done. I know when to hold 'em, and I know when to fold 'em. I gave up and played with Baby Girl and watched Property Brothers for the rest of the day.
And what did I do with the counter I destroyed?
It's the flooring version of duck tape: sticky tiles. I bought a 4' countertop at Menards that actually looks pretty decent, considering it cost $17. But I need to cut 6" off of it, and I'm working up my nerve. My plan is to stage this as a beverage center or something like that; it's different because it's supposed to be, not because I totally screwed up! We've decided to take the plunge and put the house on the market in a few weeks, so it'll have to be better than sticky tiles.
I'm glad this project worked for the original blogger (and her project looks really good, too) but I would say unless you know exactly what's underneath your laminate, or unless you're ready to fork out the money for new counters if this goes bad--something that's a little more expensive for me because I have to custom order since we have a peninsula--either skip this project or try it somewhere that you can pass off as a beverage station if it doesn't end well.
Thursday, March 19, 2015
This is the one room in the house that's never been painted. Even the unfinished basement has been painted, but this room was an inoffensive white that I was happy to leave for the time being. Now it's five years later and every other room has been painted, many of them twice, and this room just looks sad. The idea of painting, of course, opens up all the color options, but I'm kind of thinking I'll just paint it the same color as the kitchen or as Baby Girl's room. Keep things simple.
From the doorway. Unfinished projects in this picture: dresser, floors, walls, desk, bookcases, side table, lamps, and benches. So, you know, pretty much everything except the couch.
The partially stripped dresser. I still have no idea how to get right up next to the brass trim, but procrastinating probably won't solve that problem.
You can also see Baby Girl's little play area there. It's not big, but the toy room is like fifteen feet away so I don't think it needs to be. Of course her toys are spread all over the room; that corner doesn't contain them. The space heater (mostly hidden by my laptop) is almost out of season, but I might leave it there because a)I don't know where else to put it, and b) there'll be random cold days or nights for probably at least the next two and a half months, plus the basement is colder than the rest of the house anyway. I just have to remember to unplug it in the summer or the kids will turn it on. Actually I'd like to buy a new infrared heater and get rid of this one, but we'll see.
The aquarium portion of the room. The aquarium is not really that green; I had just started scrubbing it and stirred everything up when I decided to stop and take pictures because that's how I work. We're going to upgrade to a 55 gallon tank, which is what that wood thing is for; it will eventually become the stand. It should be sooner rather than later, because I've finally saved up the money to upgrade but I don't have anywhere to put it until the stand is built.
The trim has been taken off because there is a tiny, like seriously two inch wide, strip of laminate flooring that still needs to be put down. Sigh.
Count the unfinished projects! Chairs, desk, bookcases. Probably window trim--I've painted it in every other room so I might as well paint it in this one. That curtain rod and curtain also need to be changed. The bed was there when this first became a bedroom, so I hung an extra long rod to mask the off-center window. That's also just a single really wide curtain panel, because I didn't see the need to make extra work for myself when that curtain wouldn't really be used.
A better shot of the desk. The cushion foam in the corner was from the pullout loveseat, which has since found a home at the dump. I kept the foam thinking I might make the dogs a bed out of it, but I realize now it should just go in the trash. They're not going to give up their chairs for dog beds.
I'm trying to focus on just this room right now, which is a very difficult concept for me. I think it's hard to stay in one space because I work so slowly and I'm afraid that if I don't jump around then some projects will never get started or maybe get forgotten. I don't know. I just know that my mind is always five years ahead of my hands.
I've already started on the bench redo. It's going slow, which is pretty much exactly what I expected. At this rate I'll be done with the benches in a month and the room in three years. That sounds about right.