Tuesday, March 27, 2007

More spring flowers

I just gotta say ... Spring is truly gorgeous in this part of the world. Here are a few pics from the front yard.

Ummm ... why are we house hunting again?

Monday, March 26, 2007

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Break-up

I think we broke up with The Bad Boyfriend house yesterday. We're dumping him for someone taller & younger. Isn't that typical? Here's the break-down on the break-up.

I thought about the renovations that need to be done to The Bad Boyfriend. At least one bathroom NEEDS to be renovated, that is for certain. Because of the way the master bath is situated, the only way to expand it would be to break into a corner of the large kitchen, resulting in two rooms that need renovation. And not just any two rooms, but the two most expensive home renovation projects that you can do.
I actually decided to be generous.

1. I found a website that will help you figure out renovation costs, taking into account the region in which you live, the quality of materials you'd like to use, the size of the room, etc. I found a fairly average estimate to renovate just the master bathroom & ignored the kitchen for the most part.
2. Then I added the price of the renovations to the listed price of the Bad Boyfriend House.
3. After getting that figure, I looked on Realtor.com and the MLS (that's Multiple Listing Service for those of you who haven't shopped for a house lately) and found a house that perfectly matched the price I was investigating. I had driven past this house earlier in the week & was intrigued. Now I was even more intrigued. Let's call it. Mr. Tall&Handsome.
4. On Saturday afternoon, Tim and I went out & drove past a few houses. We drove past Mr. Tall&Handsome & Tim really liked it, too. So we called the realtor & arranged a showing for that very afternoon.

One word: Wow.

Wow wow wow.

Mr. Tall&Handsome is more than 200 square feet larger than Bad Boyfriend. And the floor plan is perfect for us. And it has a two car garage! And an additional half bath. It even has a nice soaking tub in the master bathroom. And although it's in a newer neighborhood, it has tall pines in back. And the insulated windows make the house feel just as quiet as our current place out in 'burbs.

I immediately knew that it was time to dump the Bad Boyfriend. This other house (Mr. Tall&Handsome) has so much more to offer. Plus it's move-in ready. No need to threaten our marrige with the stress and strain of home renovations.

So are we making a bid on Mr. Tall&Handsome? I don't think so. Even though I think we can afford him, it would be tighter than I'd like, so we're just going to take a deep breath, keep our eyes open, and show some patience.

Sigh. [this time in relief]

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Bad Boyfriend

I spent the afternoon driving around again. Looked at some more houses. Showed some of them to Tim after work. Wash, rinse, repeat. Some of the houses seem nice, but either the neighborhood is sketchy or the parking is terrible or the house just doesn't grab our interest for whatever reason. Nothing is tugging at us like that white house in the trees. Uuuuuugh. It's like falling in love with a bad boyfriend. You shouldn't and you know you shouldn't, but the attraction is so strong and you just can't fight it ...

And like a lovesick fool, I have to show you the object of my desire. Here are a couple pics of Bad Boyfriend from the street. Forgive me for not showing too much. This is a public blog, ya know. ;)

Great things about this house:
1. It is exactly in the part of town where we want to live. Believe it or not, this house is well inside the city limits & within a quarter mile of tons of shops and one mile away from a major shopping area (mall, movie theater, etc).
2. Trees! Tons of them! Mostly enormous pines, but I think there are a few oaks in there. The only other house we saw with a lot of trees like this is waaaaaaay out in the boonies. The trees look nice, create privacy & keep the AC bill lower.
3. All those trees means no mowing. Seriously! That's how many trees it has!
4. The neighborhood is small and very quiet. Very quiet. When I've been there, I've heard nothing but the chirping of birds. George would hate that, but we love it. Also, it's clear that the neighbors really care for their properties, which is super good.
5. No Homeowners' Association fees! And no covenants! Did you know that my brother- and sister-in-law have a convenant on their house that says they aren't allowed to make soap? Seriously!
6. There is a covered, screened porch on the back. So we could sit outside and enjoy the trees and NOT get eaten alive by mosquitoes.
7. Kitchen is situated so that I could actually watch TV while working at the stove or the sink. So I'm not totally cut off from the action in the living room while gettin' my bake on.
8. Nice long drive with plenty of parking for us and friends.
9. There is a very nice, paved biking trail very near-by. So we could start riding our bikes regularly again.

Bad things about this house:
1. The roof is 21 years old. The owners' inspector says it's okay (and I did some research & it seems this type of roof can last 25 years), but I'm worried.
2. No garage. Where do we put the bikes? Would we need to get a shed?
3. Here's the big one. The bathrooms in this house are SOOOOO tiny! The smallest bathrooms I've ever seen! Imagine if you tightly crammed a tub, toilet, & sink in the smallest space possible. That's the situation in both of the bathrooms. I honestly think your average handicapped toilet stall is bigger than these bathrooms. There's a linen closet in the hall for the public bathroom, but the bathroom attached to the master bedroom is just as tiny and has zero storage space. Where am I supposed to put towels and extra rolls of toilet paper and my make-up and hair drier and Sheff's electric shaver? Where am I supposed to put my freakin' tampons, fercrissake?!?

And yet ...

And yet we like the place. It feels like home. All the other places have just felt like houses, but this could be home.

So like a desperate, idiotic girlfriend, we defend the house. "We can change it!" we proclaim, knowing full well that the stress and strain and finacial expense of a bathroom renovation terrifies us. And the only way that we could renovate that master bathroom and stay on the house's original footprint would be to bust through the large kitchen. So it would be a bathroom and kitchen remodel rolled up in one. How could we ever do this? How could we possibly think that Sheff and I are really cut out to do this kind of crap? Why on earth would we sign up for this?

So we're considering getting a very young house in a very young, very large neighborhood just so we can avoid the renovation nightmares. But we agree that if we do that, we'll always look back on this place as The One That Got Away.


Thursday, March 22, 2007

Real Estate Market Madness

I have been consumed by real estate lately. It has taken over my life. It has infected my mind and eaten away any part of my brain that was not already dedicated to thinking about real estate. The other night I was awake until 4:30am just looking at house listings on the internet. I'm beginning to understand how Frodo must have felt about the ring. The power and the longing and the total consumption of it all ...

The good news is that my insatiable desire to go deeply into debt has gotten me out of the house a TON over the last week. And it's all thanks to my darling GPS, Sally. I feel that I should write Sally a poem sometime. She's just so amazing and has improved the quality of my life by leaps and bounds. Dear Sally ... how do I love you ...

But my love for computerized navigation systems can only be matched by my fever for house shopping. I blame it on spring fever. The flowers start to bloom & suddenly everybody feels like nesting. And god help be, I've been sucked into it, too.

I should admit, though, that this fascination with local real estate has been going on for months now. In the past, I've spent the odd hour looking at houses on-line, occasionally driving past ones I like, or even driving through neighborhoods I've never seen before just to see if there are any places for sale. My darling husband had been totally uninterested ... until one week ago. That's when I told him that we need to buy a house before he can buy his beloved Audi TT. Tim was confused. He could not see the logic. So I showed him a mortgage calculator & talked about investing money in things that might actually provide a profit some day. I don't know if he absorbed the fine details. But he certainly learned that in the Dictionary of Happy Marriages, "House" will always come before "Sports Car".

Since that night, we have spent hours pouring over listings. I have spent 3 days & much too much gasoline on the roads with Sally, visiting house after house, investigating neighborhoods, & taking notes on my impressions. Since all of this began, we have formally toured three houses (4 if you count Mark's house since his is laid out exactly like one of our old contenders). It's been crazy.

Now we have narrowed it all down to one. One house. One house that we really like. And a part of me is stunned and scared because I've never bought a house before & I can't believe that we may have found Our House in such a short period of time and what if we screw up and what if this is a big mistake and what if it doesn't work out and we have to keep looking but what if it does work out and I'm stuck with this house with these teeny little bathrooms and I don't know exactly what we should do.
Really. I don't.
But when I look at this house, I feel that it is just right for us. Even with all of its flaws, I see hope and possibilities. I almost feel that it has been sitting on this lot, just waiting for us to come home.

We shall see ...

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

I am blind. And clueless.

I have very poor eye sight. If I want to read a book without the aid of vision correcting apparel, I have to hold the book within 2 inches of my eyes. That is not an exageration. Since I usually wear contacts, my horrible vision is not a big issue most of the time. But I've been wearing my glasses lately. And if I misplace my glasses, I'm in trouble.

For example. The other day I took a shower. While I was drying off afterwards, I realized that I could not find my glasses. I felt around on the seat and the little shelf in the shower. Nothing. I felt around among the detritus on the countertop. Nothing. I felt the top of the toilet tank and I felt around the edge of the bathtub and I even felt along the towel bar next to the shower. Nothing. So I walked to the top of the stairs and called down for help.
"Tim? Honey, can you help me? I can't find my glasses."
Dutifully, he appeared at the foot of the stairs, so I explained the situation as he walked up.
"I felt all over the place, but I just can't find them. I'm pretty sure they aren't in the shower, but-"
And at this moment, my husband reached the top of the stairs. And he reached out towards my face. And he plucked my glasses off the top of my head. And handed them to me.
I could see the grin on his face quite well even without the glasses.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Is bigger always better?

As you noticed, I found a way to make the pics bigger here on the ol' blog. Do you think this is a good thing or a bad thing? Let me know. In the mean time, here are some more flowers from the front garden (all taken on March 5th).
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Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Sunday, March 11, 2007

I got a GPS!

Ask and ye shall receive! After my horrible experience nearly 2 weeks ago, my dear Tim ordered a Garmin GPS for me and my car. Originally he was going to give it to me for my birthday at the end of April, but it arrived sooner than he expected. Plus, I obviously needed it ASAP! So earlyt in the week, Tim let me open up the box of joy. I was so excited & relieved, I actually cried. Seriously. This weekend we tried it out & it is fabulous!!!! We drove to the other side of the metro area & back ... and did not get lost at all! And so ya know, the voice on ours is the same as on George & Derek's GPS, we are also refering to our GPS as "Sally". It just feels right. ;)


So, you ask, What else have you been up to, Mare? Not a whole lot, as you can probably imagine. The weather around here has been gorgeous, though, so I've been taking some photos.
What's that?
You'd like to see some of them?
Well, I don't care what you want. I'm posting 'em anyway! :P But not a lot 'cause it's bed time.

Here are some shots from around this nameless little town in which I live. I really don't want to reveal the name of the town, so I can't share a lot, but I think these will give you a good idea of the cute quirkiness of the place (Our local bait shop is located between the paisserie/bakery & a coffee shop. I think that's great). I took these on our first really warm, beautiful sunny day in a long time (2/28). I didn't even need a jacket. Lovely.
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Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket