Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Homebuying Mania!!

Check out tonight's delicious side dish, a la Paul and Slashfood.

As expected, tonight's house is a definite "no." In general it was in quite good condition on the inside, and it was VERY charming. Gorgeous wood floors and trim in excellent condition, very vintage and beautiful, LOTS of character. One less serious setback was the bathroom: Only one in the whole house, VERY tiny, on the second floor: one teensy sink, the claw-foot tub as promised, and a small toilet, with no counters or other storage space in the tiny room. Also no shower! It wouldn't have been hard to install a hose, shower head, and curtain so that we could shower, but it would have been harder and more expensive to make the bathroom usable for the long term.

But the deal breaker was the brick chimney that came up from the furnace in the basement inside the wall and up through both floors: it was severely structurally damaged. Because of the structural damage, the lining was of course beyond cracked, showing severe water damage on all the walls around it on both floors. Paul, who knows something about chimneys from work, says it would have cost AT LEAST $30,000 to fix, and possibly as much as double that.

I'm kind of relieved that this decision was made for us - it would have been amazing to own a house like that in the long run, but even without the chimney it would have been a really big job for us to take on. So here's where we stand:

this house that we saw yesterday is the first one officially on the short list. The inside was really great, with a lot of new stuff, wood floors throughout, great size, and a SUPER basement - not finished, but with a laundry room, chest freezer, big double basin sink by the washer/dryer, a separate room for the furnace and hot water heater, water softener, a walk-in closet with built-in shelves, a full bathroom with stand-up shower, and the crowning feature of the basement: A BIG and very clean room with built-in hefty wooden tables that will make about the most wonderful man cave Paul could ever hope for. The entire basement was very clean, impressively so. The little shed at the back of the carport was also impressively clean. The kitchen definitely needs some updating, but nothing we won't enjoy doing ourselves - first and foremost installing a gas range. And there's room for us to make it to our second kid without being too cramped.

Our plan is to get pre-approved for a mortgage ASAP (hopefully next week) so we have a clear picture of what we can afford and what our monthly payments are going to look like. Then we plan to see two more houses: this one and this one.

And then, assuming the mortgage pre-approval goes smoothly and we can afford what we think we can afford, I think we'll make an offer on one. Only the second of the two new ones above is currently occupied, so with that possible exception we could be moving into our first home easily within the next 90 days, and possibly in less than 60!!

Depending on the timing and if we can afford it, we hope to have a full month of overlap living in our apartment so that we can really plan out the move, get the house ready and do some painting, and just be really organized about the whole thing.

So let me know what you think about the three we're currently focused on! I'm sure I'll be posting more as soon as I know it, and once we've visited the other two. I'm particularly excited about the fireplaces in both of the others, which is one thing the house on Marble Street doesn't have.

Here are the three short-listed houses mapped:

View Larger Map

This post is getting long, but I have one more thing to share:

Paul and I were just planning to start slowly right now, and take a few more months before we really got into it more deeply. I thought that, as usual, I would be the one getting super excited and wanting to get ahead of ourselves, and Paul is much more reserved and acts as the voice of reason. It works out well. But this time around, Paul has jumped in just as enthusiastically as I have, and so he's not being reserved at all! So we're both just extremely excited, chomping at the bit, and eager to buy our first home. So instead of a slow start to a multi-month process, we've snowballed into a full-blown, full-scale house hunt that we hope to culminate in less than 90 days. It's a little crazy, but I don't think it's the wrong move. It is an amazing time to buy, and we can have the whole summer to make our house into a home. I'm so hopeful that we'll be able to start our garden with a big fall planting, and be settled in enough to have a big housewarming party while the weather is still nice enough to be outside. We already have many family and friends who will help us prepare, and I can't wait to get started.


Yesterday: picked Paul up at work at 6, met realtor to look at this house, then to the gym where I swam with Kelly and Paul walked/jogged around the track. Home for dinner, watching more West Wing, and of course massive amounts of conversation about this house and home buying in general. We REALLY liked the house, it is definitely on the short list. Plenty for us to customize and enjoy to feed our DIY tendencies, but nothing huge that would require immediate or costly attention.

Today: meeting Paul and realtor (a different one) at this house to finally see the inside, after much speculation and getting ahead of ourselves. If the inside is a complete hole (very possible: why else would they post only outside pics?), then we'll probably cross it off. If it's redeemable, we'll have to decide whether we want to buy a house on an entire acre of nice, flat, grassy, very garden-friendly land that we could gradually turn into our dream home and live in possibly forever, but that would be a BIG task for us to be taking on at this point in our lives; or whether we want to stick with plan A and get a starter home that won't have nearly so many potential issues and that we'll plan on selling to trade up in 5 years or so.

After that, Paul heads to class and I have a haircut at 4:30, followed by passport photos one last time, a trip to the post office to mail everything (Paul already got his passport and I am jealous! also afraid he might leave the country without me), and finally meeting Kelly at the YMCA for Cardio Kickbox.

Wednesday: Stopping by the house of the family whose house I'll be using to host four boys from the Theil College Choir on Saturday night, then to church for the Ash Wednesday service.

Thursday: Working late to get in some extra hours, then choir practice as usual while Paul is at class.

Friday: Leaving in the early afternoon with Kelly (I see a lot of her lately, it's a good thing we like each other) to head down to Camp Nawakwa while it's still daylight, possibly with a detour to see her niece who I haven't seen in almost a year. Somewhere in the past few days I need to have purchased some crusty bread to take down to Nawakwa for book group.

Saturday: More book group, dinner with Sally and Joan?, then the Theil College Choir concert at Trinity and heading to the house from Wednesday with four students for the night.

Sunday: Attempting to wake up myself and four college boys in time to get ready, eat breakfast, and be back at church by 9:30 AM.

I haven't had so many plans every day of the week since I don't even know when. Ack! Busy. Hopefully Paul will hear back from PNC today and we can go in and get pre-approved for a mortgage, and get a better idea of how much home we can really afford and what our monthly payments will be. But that's going to have to happen next week. And who knows, it's possible that within a month or two we'll be home owners! Wow.


Monday, February 16, 2009

Chiang Mer II, House Hunt, and sweater update

Very yummy dinner tonight! Another permanent addition to our rotation, altho to make it for a young kid I'd have to figure out something other than mild curry paste that isn't really all that mild. Enjoy!

Also, here's our favorite house thus far:

Favorite based on list price, location, size and style of house, appearance, off-street parking, and a nice big backyard. We're scheduled to see the inside of it next Monday evening! Should be lots of fun, and hopefully educational.

We got to see the inside of two places on Saturday, and they were polar opposites: one was a bank-owned place that was way too shabby inside for us to take on, plus was too big for us. The other was FSBO and too brand-new for us to make our own to satisfy our DIY itch, and was maybe a little too small with no second floor AND no basement. Because of the newness, we recommended it to our other house-hunting couple friends.

Still working on the sweater, just barely started the first sleeve. Body is done to the armpits, waiting for the sleeves. Somehow I managed to knit not at all on my unexpected day off, but I did get a significant amount of laundry done, so it's OK.

Bed time!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Limited facebook access

Paul has now given me access to facebook from 5:30-9:30 in the evening. I like this arrangement - it forces me to limit my time on there and not get too sucked in.

As a result, last night I finished the body of my first sweater up to the armpits! Now tonight I will start on the first sleeve!! I'm quite excited. Making the sleeves should go quite quickly. I'm going to try the provisional cast-on method of tubular cast-on to do the sleeve edging so that it's a little tighter than the bottom of the sweater.

More pictures soon! I also want to share the pics of the tamales Paul and I made on Sunday. They took us until 10:30 PM, but they were quite tastey, and we now have a whole freezer full to reward us for our patience and hard work.

I also wanted to share with you that I know SIX pregnant women at the moment, four having their first babies and two having their second. It's no wonder Kelly M and I feel left out! Sheesh. And we're not even getting pressure from our mothers-in-law, but really, it's hard to stave off those nesting hormones when you're surrounded by them!! Hopefully within a few months we will both own our first homes, and then maybe we can start thinking about giving in to the tug...

Speaking of hard work...I should probably be doing some right now. Getting right on that...

Sunday, February 08, 2009

No more facebook

So Paul has blocked my access to facebook.  Sometimes it's not so fun to have a tech-savvy hubby.

But I deserve it: I get sucked in and then I don't come to bed to snuggle.  I keep saying I want to start going to bed earlier, and facebook is one of the major players keeping me up late.  I'm weak.

Also, I was planning to give it up for Lent anyway.  I also plan to give up twitter for lent.  On Mardi Gras I'll post a status saying the date I'll be back, and then I won't even look at it until Easter.  If I succeed, it will be the first time I've ever stuck to something like that for Lent, unless you count me giving up, say, soda, which I hate and never drink in the first place.

Now I will hopefully finish more important things, like knitting and crocheting sweaters, booties, blankets, hats and toys for my various friends planning to push out babies all summer and fall.

Upon re-reading it a day later, this post sounds remarkably like a silly version of "he hits me because he loves me, and it's for my own good," but really, I do spend WAAAAaaaaay too much time on teh internets.

I need to get on facebook for a few minutes, though, so I can send a message to someone from my old job who just friended me...I'm not ignoring you, Diora!! I wonder if I can access facebook through Paul's computer?? Just one more hit, please, then I swear I'll quit! I can change, really!! Just once more, then I'm done forever!

Friday, February 06, 2009

Knitting books

I need advice from knitters who own books:

What are good knitting books to have?

I am considering purchasing Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitter's Almanac on Amazon for $8 (I have a $25 gift card too), but some say that it's hard to follow without learning her abbreviations and lingo in Knitting Without Tears. I searched the entire Cumberland County Library System, and the only Elizabeth Zimmermann book they have is Knitting Without Tears, so I put it on hold. I figure I could get the Almanac, and photocopy the parts I need from KWT. Mainly I want the baby surprise jacket, but lot of Ravelry people and knitters in general always call Almanac the best knitting book for $8 you will ever buy, and I'm curious. Does anyone have a copy I could borrow and skim?

Do you have other knitting books that you think are vital to your knitting library? I have now read Stitch 'n Bitch, the entire learning part before the patterns, and I am about 20% through my first sweater from Ann Budd's Knitter's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns, which I think was a good choice for my first sweater book.

Katy! Nic! Anyone else who knits! I need thoughts.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Wool and the sheep it came from

Well this isn't the actual sheep that the wool for my sweater came from, but it's still a nice parallel.

While uploading a new pic of my sweater, now a few inches long, I finally uploaded a video I took at the PA Farm Show. I totally forgot I took this, and you are going to LOVE it! This is the sheep I told some of you about. It was much more angry and unhappy about having been sheared than any other sheep - the rest of them were standing quietly, looking rather pathetic and embarrassed in the corners of their pens. This sheep, on the other hand, wanted everyone to know that it hadn't given anyone permission to take its wool! Keep your eyes on the kid in the stroller at the end.

First the sweater:

Now the angry sheep video:


Another to-do/schedule post

Monday evening:
- Zumba @ WSYMCA w Min & Kel 5:30
- Make something reasonably healthy for dinner - think low fat!
- Mail prescriptions in to Express Scripts
- Laundry
- Finish ripping HP3 to iTunes
- Finish Sarah & Ginny's sample invitations & mail them
- Upload knitting pics to Flickr
- Finish setting up Ravelry account (using above Flickr photos)
- Knit & go to bed

Tuesday evening:
- MWM (My Wonderful Mom) picks me up from work @ 5:00 PM
- MWM takes me to dinner @ Passage To India (YUM!!)
- MWM then drives me to St. Patrick Cathedral in Harrisburg for
- 7:30 PM Mendelssohn's 200th Birthday AGO concert
*Come see me sing three beautiful pieces w ~15 other Trinity members!
*Celebrate Mendelssohn's 200th Birthday!
- Hopefully time for some more knitting before bed.

Wednesday evening:
- Maybe WSYMCA with Min at 5:00ish?
- 7:00 PM Herby's El Mexicano with lots of fun Nawakwa people for Mare's birthday celebration!
*Yes, that's two birthdays in a row, but this one is for a living person who is much younger than Mendelssohn.
- Multiple margaritas might not be conducive to knitting before bed, but I'm going to try to control myself...

Thursday evening:
- Manning the Juniata booth at the Harrisburg Academy's College Fair
- Hopefully time for plenty of knitting before bed

Friday evening:
- Hopefully WSYMCA with Min around 4:30
- Relaxing after a really busy week!!

Other things to do ASAP:
- Passport photos @ AAA to finally get updated passport application in the mail so that Paul and I can legally travel outside the country at some point.
- Have Hannah over for dinner so she can give us our delicious Christmas present
- Mail in application for March First Time Homebuyer's class
- Update automatic Amazon credit card payment to include YMCA membership and online prescriptions

I like being busy!! *Whew*