Sunday, February 27, 2011

Furnishing and decorating ideas

There's an interesting article about the makeover of a 1920s home in the March issue of Southern Living with ideas for enhancing your home. Btw, this home has Shaker style kitchen cabinets, which is what we're planning for our new kitchen. Another kitchen in this issue makes good use of salvaged pieces, including a marble countertop.

Check out the lovely woodland garden photos, the tulip photo essay, and the selection of heirloom tomatoes. And there's a guide to fun places to visit inTexas. Those bluebonnets are beautiful!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Buying our house: Report #7

Oh, we've been busy! Packing every day, of course, and selling or giving away a lot of our collection of concrete benches, birdbaths, and little critters. Well, there is this really big concrete toad. And we bought stencil paints and brushes to stencil the new house. (We always stencil our homes.) And we sanded and spray-painted the futon, hose caddies, etc. And we bought a wing chair recliner combo (on sale) to be delivered to the new house.

So, there we are, getting ready for the closing Friday, and our realtor calls one day and says that we can close two days earlier. Okaaay. We can do that. (That is wonderful news!) We're also working on getting insurance for the new house. I spend a lot of time working on paperwork for that. And now that's done, and it's time to transfer the utilities, the newspaper, the mail, etc. and start the address changes.

We did get the keys--after the closing--and we're ready to start moving things in. We have to talk to the contractors again and fine tune the details. We'll be borrowing a hot plate and a microwave while work is done on the kitchen. And we'll have to take the dogs out on leash until the new fence is in--and keep them out of the contractors' way.... Our friends are helping us move a lot of things now, but professional movers (Two Men and a Truck) will do most of the heavy lifting (except for the concrete collection).

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Decorating ideas and trends

What really grabbed my attention in the March issue of Country Living was the retro look of oxford shoes! They're now available as sneakers, boots, and pumps!

Furnishings include vintage-look luggage and old pull-down teaching charts, plus other home decorating ideas, including using boat hardware in your kitchen. There's also an article on that new vacation trend--staying in guest tents (some are 484 square feet with wooden floors and other amenties). Plus articles on Brooklyn, cooking, and more.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Furniture arrangements (link)

Here are some tips on arranging and re-arranging furniture. Measuring spaces and furniture is important, or--Measure twice, move it once. Scale and balance are important too. For more suggestions: 6 Furniture Arrangement Tips : Decorating : Home & Garden Television

(I'm looking forward to getting back into the new house so I can take more measurements! And the movers warned us that they will only do so many changes before they start charging us ...)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Pre-fab kitchen countertops

I learned today from this HGTVPro webpage that there are pre-fab kitchen countertops that are cheaper than regular granite countertops. I didn't know that! I'm thinking of ordering a granite countertop 'cause I learned that granite is cheaper now than Corian and Staron, which I'd planned to use in my new kitchen because I wanted an integral backsplash and drainboard. Check out this message board for more info: Granite Question - Topic Powered by Social Strata

Monday, February 14, 2011

Buying our house: Report #6

The new owners continue to landscape, and we're having the appliances get maintenance check ups and cleaning things up for the transfer; and we've begun packing. We were going to do all the packing to save money, but we gave up because of all the big bowls, pans, etc., and then there are the books! We have bags full that we'll have to move by hand. So we gave up and called the movers and told them we needed them to finish the packing, which postpones the move a day. Drat.

Today we went to the showroom with a friend to pick out cabinets, countertops, and faucets for the kitchen. We learned that granite is now cheaper than Corian and Staron. I actually wanted a solid surface color for the countertops since it makes them easier to clean, but we changed our focus to granite, and that was fun, though it wasn't easy making a decision. My favorite didn't work with the cabinets, which will be natural caramel (birch), and then we had to compromise on choices, but we all agreed--finally--on one. The people at Forestwood Design helped by shifting all our choices (heavy samples) around the cabinet door and pointing out what matched and what didn't. Then we worked our way through hardware selections for the cabinets. We'll make a final decision on bathroom faucets later, but we really like our kitchen faucet (single handle).

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Buying our house: Report #5

We've been waiting for papers from the seller of our new house, which are taking longer than usual, but Shawn e-mailed us Tuesday evening (February 8) that he'd received the papers; and the following morning we met to sign them. We move forward another step.

Thursday the nursery crew begins planting the palm trees at our old house. the holes for those towering palms look like the wells leading to the Morlocks' underground lair in The Time Machine! Simulataneously a fencing company has sent its people to look at our new house. Hmm. After looking at that menacing bougainvillea, they tell us that they can't remove it after all. We'll have to call in the professionals. Understandable. I've never seen a trunk like that on a bougainvillea. They discuss fencing options and will give us an estimate. (We need a privacy fence, which will be stepped, and chain link for the dogs.)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

February's color of the month (link)

The contenders at HGTV were yellow, violet, and tangerine; that ended in a tie between the yellow and tangerine. Brian Patrick Flynn said, "Yellow makes me wanna punch an angel." Check out their webpage to see how tangerine can be used: Design Happens » Archive » Color of the Month: February 2011

(Uh, what is a Hermes box?)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Buying our house: Report #4

The time until closing would be really dragging if we didn't have so much to do to get ready. Today we called our insurance company for this house, and I'm sending them the house inspector's insurance report on the new house. Will talk to them again later. We got a letter from our mortagage company saying that our mortgage is paid off. We called them just to check since last week we got a letter from them saying to pay the next mortgage payment, and we'd be reimbursed when the paperwork went through. We have more paperwork coming from them, and it sounds like it'll be a long time before that happens. And I called the house inspector for a verbal consultation since we weren't on site. Well, eveyone told us not to be on site and bother him! He explained a few terms and told me that the house was well built. The over-sized AC unit did need to be replaced. And I called the movers to make a tentative moving date and told them that we were planning to pack ourselves to save money. A lot of money! We need more boxes. And we're having some of our appliances here checked out to be sure they're in good shape. And the new owners stopped by to discuss some things, take measurements, and pick up the box I've been filling with relevant papers and photos of their new home. And we've begun to pack books (lots of books), book ends, and other things we won't be needing.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Buying our house: Report #3

February 2, Wednesday, a house inspector inspected our new (to be) house and e-mailed us the inspection report, along with an insurance report and invoice. Very detailed report. We'd seen most of the problems, and he reassured us about lots of other things. I learned that "Appears Serviceable" means that the system, component, and/or material is capable of being used and is in generally satisfactory condition for its type and age, though they may need maintenance, show aging, wear and tear. Problems are noted under "Condition." (I was worried when I saw so many "Appears Serviceable" tags. That didn't sound good!) There was also a termite inspection (separate). Although no evidence of termite infestation was found, the house will be treated. Even in a concrete block house, there's lots of wood.

February 4, Friday, we went to the house to meet with a contractor. We had an entourage of friends roaming around and sharing their opinions, and Shawn, our supportive realtor, was also there. He has spent a lot of time shepherding us through the various steps--and answering our e-mail queries. We need to go to the contractor's showroom to pick out materials, and, of course, we will learn what we can afford.

Note: Shawn and his wife, Dee, handle separate areas of selling and finding homes for people. We appreciate all their help! We really keep Shawn busy now, however! Here's a link to their website:

Friday, February 4, 2011

Home technology trends (link)

"What is an electronic systems contractor ... ? An ESC is an individual or company specially trained to provide design, integration, installation and field maintenance of low-voltage electronic systems for the home. These technicians can help you ... , from setting up a house-wide wi-fi network, to installing a home theater, to creating a comprehensive system that allows a homeowner to monitor energy consumption, control lighting, heating, cooling, security and other systems from a single integrated touchscreen."

Check out these beautiful media rooms and control screens that monitor your systems and energy use. And if you don't want your big TV screen in your face, you can hide it in the ceiling. Link: 9 Cool Home Technology Trends : Slideshow : HGTV Pro

Sparkle note: If you drag a treat from the box, and click on it again, Sparkle will jump up and catch it!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Buying our house: Report #2

This house has a lot of the things we want, but it's not as perfect as our old house. I vacillate between being afraid we'll lose it and missing our trees, flowers, quiet and privacy, etc. But we won't miss the work and the money we spend on mowers, gas, oil, ant dust, etc. We will miss the beauty and quiet of the five acres, but we're also really looking forward to taking care of less than a 1/2 acre and being able to walk to shopping and around a nearby lake, where many people walk, jog, and stroll with their dogs. It's a nice area and we have a little privacy.

Monday morning (January 31), I went online and found an e-mail from Shawn. He'd made the offer on our new house and had already received a counter-offer, which we accepted, and then we officially had a contract on the new house! (I believe this took place in under 10 minutes! I was grateful that I went online at that time.) Closing for our 1962 rancher is set for the end of the month.

'Course we hadn't yet closed on the old house and didn't have money for a new house, but that closing went smoothly; we were early, as is our wont, because we want to start the ball rolling if we can; so this time--like our last closing--we had most of the papers signed before the buyers arrived. (Last time it was the sellers.)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Buying our new house: Report #1

We had to decide between building a house and buying one. Though we would have preferred to build again (using the same house plan), buying a home--especially if you find a good deal in today's market--is more practical. And since we've come way down on our house's selling price, we had less choice.

Friday, January 21, Shawn, our realtor, showed us two houses in the location we wanted, but they did not meet our needs at all! We have to have a big enough yard for the dogs, and we wanted a back porch--screened if possible--and a front porch, plus a garage for storage. (We had two sheds at the old place.) We also needed enough bedrooms and an office for the desks and filing cabinets, etc. And I didn't want to rip up all that carpeting, some of which was new. The duplex was interesting, but too big in some ways and too small in others (the yard and the two tiny porches). I confess that I was a bit despondent that night. (Waaahhh!!)

Our next trip out--Friday, January 28--with Shawn, who was nice enough to ferry us back and forth, had originally included three houses, but we started out with a fourth one that was a last minute addition. He didn't even have any paperwork on it. Looking at it from the curb piqued my interest. Great driveway (circular) with a parking area and a two-car garage. The house was big enough--lots of room and bright. (I love lots of light.) There was a screened back porch! The back yard was fairly big, but needed a fence. It's bank owned and will need some work, like a new kitchen, including appliances and the kitchen sink! (Big hole where the sink should be.) It seems to meet our needs fairly well, but we'll look at the other homes. Well, it turns out that two of those homes really need work!! And the last home is frame, not concrete block, so we don't bother looking at it. We go back to the first house and look at it again; and then Shawn takes us around the neighborhood again too. This house goes to the top of our list!