Friday, November 13, 2009

Stuff I Made: A Human!

Halloween at 16 ish weeks. The cautionary whale and her boss boyfriend.



So, yes, while I have been absent for a while - I've been making lots and lots of stuff. Flippers and chromosomes and other stuff. Making a baby. A big baby. So while the husband tackled many awesome home projects, I reminded him that I was also busy (... napping...) . There was A LOT going down in my uterus. Anyway, so yes, now I am in my pregnancy happy place where I can do stuff again without falling over or getting motion sick. Yay!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken (or Buying the House - Part 2)

So, with our little hearts and spirits broken, we took a chill pill. For about a week. Yeah, we are kind of hyper when it comes to this stuff. We jumped back on the horse, and went on some real serious house hunting trips with our realtor. We saw stuff that I would have never stepped foot in based on online ads. We saw the good, bad, and a whole lotta ugly. But I’m pretty proud of husband and I, we aren’t turned off by ugly. In fact, we had an agreement that if something is “too nice” it just wouldn’t be right for us. We like to polish up something that is rough and unloved. We’re gluttons for punishment like that. Our realtor was pretty impressed with the amount of eyesore we were willing to overlook. Cute, right? These doe-eyed newlyweds don’t have a clue.. oh but we did. We have vision. Or something like that.

So anyway, jump to the current tour of slumping roofs and bad paint. We go to a house that I had already told husband was an impossibility. The pictures were just too generic. The place didn’t seem to have a personality at all. But I begrudgingly went anyway.

You know what? I got the feeling. It’s hard to explain, but sometimes you just get a feel for a place by just being there. I’m not a hippie, I swear. Sure, there were some definite cosmetic issues. A moldy bathroom and a dank kitchen. A sea of juniper out front. But, there were also lovely hardwood floors and nice architectural details that surprisingly weren’t in the ad. Maybe I’m the only one who would call it nice? I’m not really even sure what it is. Mid century swoopy light thing? I digress. You can’t put a price on the “feeling”, and it was definitely there.

So we did our thing, put our bid in, and guess what? We got it! Turns out this house’s specialness was really really overlooked by others because it had been on the market for over a year, and had gone through a few price reductions. Whoa. So that worked out for us. I’d like to think little housey was just waiting for us to come along.

So, looking for some real down and dirty details or advice? Loan crap? Paperwork up the wazoo? We did an FHA loan, so if you have specific questions about that process, feel free to drop me a line. It wasn’t the easiest thing, but we made it work. I don’t think I have a whole posts worth of info on it, but really, fire away in the comments or via email if you want to chat about it.

Up next… big announcement #2. You can probably guess..

Monday, November 2, 2009

Buying the house - Part I

So you’re thinking of buying a house, huh? Got the wanna-spend-crazy-amounts-of-cash bug? Well, I’m sure that in most parts of the country, right now is a pretty great time to do it. Interest rates are low and prices are down. Of course, we live in one of the most bloated real estate areas of the U.S. (the San Francisco Bay Area), so our prices haven’t been reduced all that dramatically. Anyway. Based on our experience, I’ll try to impart some world weary wisdom on the process, but I am no expert on this stuff. We lived, we learned, and we made some mistakes. Here’s our story.

Husband spends a lot of time looking at real estate online. Always has. His job is somewhat related to doing just that, so nerd herder that he is, he does it in his free time as well. He pores over Redfin. Zillow is his homeboy. I’d gotten very used to our Sunday ritual of reading comics and slurping fruity pebbles while the husband further ruins his eyesight by scanning hundreds of open house listings online. This is every week. For years. Except one magical Sunday was different. He had found the holy grail of houses. Charming bungalow, good neighborhood, and best of all dirt CHEAP. So we decided to go take a looksy, and it was all kinds of wonderful. Know what else? There were about 12 other couples there, all agreeing how wonderful it was.

But noooo… this was OUR house! How dare they even cross the threshold! Get your dirty paws off that antique doorknob! Basically, we went from zero to sixty on the house hunt in a few hours, because we were so convinced that this should be our house and we just HAD to WIN!

To that I now say, “brilliant marketing, realtor person.” Because obviously, we were playing right into their hands. Our realtor (who we hastily secured that same day over the phone) pressured us to put in an offer way above asking price. We didn’t. We put in an offer just at asking, and were outbid by 8 other people. Obviously, we lost the house.

We were dumbfounded. I watch the Today show, for crying out loud! There’s a recession! Since when are people fighting over houses? This is not 2006!

Valuable lesson learned – in the Bay Area, it really doesn’t matter. We learned about “teaser prices”. That listing was designed to create a bidding war. After that we had quite a feeling of bah-humbug. We didn’t really want you anyway (even though we really did, and our little hearts were broken). But dear friends, the story doesn’t end there. There’s light at the end of this here tunnel (if you want to spoil the ending, see the post right under this one..)

Friday, October 30, 2009

A long - busy - absence

When I originally posted the message below, there was only one big announcement. Oh how things change. I don’t want to overwhelm you, dears, so first things first.

The Mr. and I are now happy home owners!



contrary to popular belief, the juniper above is not swallowing the house. Oh yes, there will be more on that.

So many projects! So much to do! Ahhhhh the potential! See the picture? Don't you just think she needs a little love? Or are we insane?

We are so excited to get started and let er rip with all of our DIY enthusiasm.
But first things first. Look forward to a few posts on our home purchasing experience. Not exactly like you see on HGTV. Property Virgins? Misleading! Canadian!

And then a little somethin’ somethin’ about the move.

Oh and you want to hear about our kitchen remodel 32 hours after moving in that only cost 135 bucks*? Well, that’s coming up too.

Stay tuned, folks. This is going to be fun!

Now, Alex P. Kitten says, “happy Halloween!” In case you were wondering, he’s dressed up as a cow.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Big news... soon

So big news coming soon, I hope.

I'll give you a hint.

It will involve many great DIY projects.

:)

(sorry for the radio silence. I do have a few projects in the queue, but one of them is a surprise for someone who reads this blog ;)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Lazy Saturday


Stuff I've made so far this weekend...

Pretty much the best breakfast sandwich known to mankind, if I can toot my own horn. Hint, it involves 2 slices of bacon and these marvelous egg fry rings from Williams Sonoma. A must have. Really.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Strawberry Margarita Pie via Annie's Eats



First, can I say how much I love the site Annie’s Eats? It’s fabulous. Tons of great recipes, PLUS Annie responds to comments if you have questions. Neat, right? I love Martha, but Annie’s got her beat there.

I found this fab recipe last week while trying to figure out something fun to bring to a Memorial Day pool party. Strawberries + whipped cream + tequila = deliciousness. Done!

The filling was really quick and easy, but I had problems with the crust. My first try failed miserably. It just slid down the sides of the pan, and you really do need that high edge to hold in the soft filling. The second go round worked much better, and the trick was that I allowed the melted butter to cool completely and also added an extra graham cracker.

So, here’s the dessert porn:

Pros:

1) Delicious. You can taste the tequila, and nothing goes better with a sunny day.
2) Fairly simple and easy to throw together. Quick.
3) Doesn’t require a ton of ingredients

that's it, folks!
Cons:
1) Tricky crust
2) LOTS of dishes (see below)
3) This is most important, the pie HAS to remain frozen. Yeah. I went to serve the thing after it had been sitting in our friend’s fridge for a few hours, and it was a semi-solid mess. Still delicious, though, and the half-drunk group didn’t mind a bit.


overshare? maybe.



Strawberry Margarita Pie


(from Annie’s Eats. Visit and show her some love, ok?)

Ingredients:
For the crust:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (10 graham crackers, so 1 sleeve + 1 cracker)
1/3 cup sugar
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled.

For the filling:
2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
6 tbsp. tequila
1/4 cup triple sec
3 tbsp. fresh lime juice
Zest of one lime
2 cups heavy cream

For garnish:
Fresh strawberries
Lime slices or wedges

Directions:
To make the crust, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper. Butter the parchment, as well as the sides of the springform. In a medium bowl combine the graham cracker crumbs and sugar. Add the melted butter and toss with a fork until well combined. Transfer the mixture to the springform pan and evenly cover the sides and bottom of the pan with crumbs (use the bottom of a ramekin to even the bottom crust). Bake in the preheated oven for 13-15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the filling, combine the strawberries, sugar, condensed milk, tequila, triple sec, lime juice and lime zest in the bowl of a food processor. Process until completely smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Transfer to a large bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream on high speed until stiff peaks form. Add one third of the whipped cream to the puree and gently fold in with a rubber spatula. Stir in the remaining cream.

Pour the filling into the crust, cover, and freeze until firm at least overnight. To remove the springform sides, wrap a towel soaked in hot water around the outside of the pan for 10-15 seconds. Carefully remove the sides of the pan. Before serving, garnish with fresh strawberries and lime slices as desired. To serve, slice with a hot, dry sharp knife, wiping the blade between slices.

Source: adapted from Manchester Highlands Inn via Hostess with the Mostess

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Martha-filled post

More satisfying than a jelly-filled donut.. well, maybe.



I am a subscriber to Martha Stewart's ultra fab daily email blasts, Craft of the Day and Organizing Tip of the Day. So even on days like this one when I'm miserable and sick in bed, I can ooh and ahh over Martha's ideas and be productive in spirit.

A recent Organizing Tip of the Day: How to Fold a Fitted Sheet. Oh, Martha, don't tease. That's certainly something that has always alluded me. When we lived in the city and there were cheap wash-n-fold places aplenty, I used to send all of our laundry out. I was always so fascinated as to how they got the sheets to fold all crisp and neat like. I was convinced they had a magical sheet-folding machine hidden in the back. The amount of joy I get from nicely folded things is disturbing, and probably a direct result from my years folding t-shirts at a big national clothing store. Anywhoo. Way off track here. What I want to say is THANKS Martha for finally clearing this up for me. I highly recommend signing up for Martha emails (she has others, too - like Cookie of the Day)

Martha tidbit #2:
All Martha Stewart Crafts at Michaels are right this very moment 25% off. This rarely happens, folks, so run over and snap up all of your Martha goodies. I just got THIS, THIS, and a whole mess of THIS. Don't tell the husband I bought more ribbon, kthnxbai.


*Martha discounts trump sickness. Apologies to all of the michael's employees I may have infected. I know, I know... my mother would not approve.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Friday, May 8, 2009

Cool Stuff Other People Made

So, this is incredibly exciting in the blog world!

Check out the Better Homes and Gardens 48-Hour Challenge. From their site: "We rounded up five talented home and garden bloggers and charged them with a tall task: designing a $500 outdoor project that you can re-create at home in a weekend. Check out the five final projects and vote for the recipient of a $5,000 bonus!"

Awesome, yes? I have to say, I'm so happy for Making it Lovely and This Young House, two of my very favorite and always inspiring blogs.


bhg challenge

So, check out their designs and of course, vote!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Vintage Apron - What I Learned



I had it in my head that for my inaugural sewing project, I had to make a vintage apron. Most sewing books (Sewing for Dummies, for sure) recommend a pillow or something equally straight forward. Nope, not me. Gimme that vintage pattern that may or may not have all of the pieces, and let's DO IT! (imagine fist pumps, ok?)

I spent 5 hours making this apron, and I'm still not happy with it.

Learn from my mistakes, people.
-First, sew the damn pillow.
-Second, if you must sew the apron, pre-wash your fabric. At the time, we didn't have on-site laundry, so my impatience got the better of me.
-Third, learn about your hem allowances. Don't guesstimate the first time.
-Fourth, don't choose a fabric with horizontal lines. Tricky to match up and make sure everything is heading in the right direction.

So, here's the finished product:



Say hello to Alex P. Kitten's butt.





Baby yellow rick-rack. Which I love.


A little too nurse-y. Not flattering. But I think a lot of that has to do with not pre-washing the fabric, as it looks a bit stiff. Anyway, live and learn. Next project, much better. Promise.