Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Picking Paint

I thought that picking paint for our house would be very simple, but for me it has been beyond simple. I have only been picking one room at a time. We first went to home depot for our colors and we finally decided on Martha Stewart Paints. She had an amazing brochure that I found very helpful.

Double Sided too!

 I picked my first color from this brochure – rainwater – which is the color in our living room.

It took two gallons to paint the living room (2 coats). Then for the dining room I decided on a gray called zinc.

 I didn’t want too many different colors for the first floor so I decided that the front hall should be a gray but not as dark as the dining room because there isn’t enough lighting. This lighter gray, called nimbus cloud, will follow all the way up the stairway and down the upstairs hallway to keep it uniform. Its a very neutral color which will make it easier when it comes to picking out paint colors for the upstairs bedrooms. 

I think when the kitchen is ready to be painted I will choose a yellow but I haven’t thought that far ahead yet. Like I said though, the Martha Stewart Brochure was very helpful. It has tons of colors to pick from and she coordinates it for you. For example, the first color I picked out, the Rainwater has a symbol next to it (*). To find out what colors would look best with it I just have to look for that symbol next to the color. The other good thing is that the Martha Stewart Paint happened to be on sale when we went to home depot and we were able to get it for $19.00 a gallon which is fairly inexpensive. If your worried about the chemicals in paint, Martha Stewart's paint is low VOC which means that it does not have a lot of volatile organic compounds. Volatile organic compounds are variety of chemicals that can have an adverse affect on your health. I have also heard that Sherwin Williams sells paints that has zero VOC in it. If your unsure about these fumes you should be safe and wear a mask! I know I did!

Another Adventure to Home Depot

The other night my in-laws and I stopped at the house to take some measurements and then we made a trip to home depot. We measured the windows so that we could purchase some blinds. This was urgent because in the bathroom we have a trashbag hanging over the window to keep out the peeping toms. We also took a look at cabinets for the kitchen. We have to schedule an appointment if we want to meet with a specialist in this department. From there we looked at some carpeting. I am totally against carpeting but I guess for the stairs it’s a safety hazard. If I find a runner that I like then I will consider using it on the stairs for safety. After that we proceeded on to look at bathroom fixtures. Right now the medicine cabinet in our upstairs bathroom is ancient and hideous. It is actually built into the wall. We want to remove it, resheet rock over it and hang a different cabinet.We also took measurements of the bathtub because we want to put up a door rather than having a curtain. I can’t stand a cold shower! Overall the trip to home depot was successful – we didn’t purchase much but now I have a few things to think about.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

This Weeks Projects

This week has been a busy week for me. The last time I worked on the house was last Sunday, but I was finally able to get back today. Good for me, Johnny was able to work on the house with his dad during the week and they got quite a bit done. One evening they spent painting the living room. The other evening Johnny was able to continue tearing down the kitchen which included ripping down the ceiling.

This morning a, another huge project was tackled. Paul was able to fix the chimney - which means no carbon monoxide poisoning for us! This is what it looked like after we took down the walls and covered the wholes.

First Paul removed some of the bricks so he could replace the entire flue.

Then he patched it all back up.

While Paul worked in the kitchen Johnny completed the second coat of paint in the living room, and it looks gorgeous.

I love how it looks!

While all of this was happening I wasn't just standing around doing nothing! I had picked out a burnt orange paint to go in the dining room. I thought the two colors would go well together. Unfortunately the color was more like a creamsicle and it looked awful. I hated it. The good thing is I only painted a little bit before realizing that I didn't like the color. Once it dried I painted over it with white. While I waited for that to dry I pulled nails out of the stairs that I had previously ripped all the carpet from. Thankfully my Mom showed up with lunch and we took a break. Then she finished painting the trim in the dining room. Considering my color choice was now out of the picture my plans for the day were too. Or at least temporarily stalled. Sheila stopped by and said that she would go with me to pick new paints. We picked out a dark gray. When I got back to the house I was able to finish one wall, the wall looking into the living room. I first started with the edging.

Then I rolled the walls.

Much better than creamsicle! Tomorrow is a new day, I hope to finish the dining room.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Saturday's Success

Saturday morning Johnny and I woke up bright and early determined to get some work done. It feels like we haven't had much progress since we bought the house but Saturday was a huge success. We started the morning off by going to check out some cabinets. We had decided that we were going to redo the entire kitchen and then realized how much it is going to cost us for new cabinets, new countertops and not to mention that we don't own any appliances yet. So we figured maybe we will have to stick with what we've got, paint them, and add some decorative knobs for the time being. But when you need things it always seems to come out of the wood work. Someone that knew we needed cabinets approached Johnny's father and told him that he had just redone an apartment and put in all new cabinets but the old ones (which are in good condition) were up for grabs. We took a look at them and decided that these will be our temporary cabinets. Anything is better than what we have up now.

These are the current cabinets.

After that adventure we went to the house to get some work done. Jack put a second coat of paint on the ceilings while Johnny and I prepped for painting. We had some more scraping to do, sanding and then we began working on painting the trim and windows. (Indecisive! We changed our minds and decided that we do not want to restore the wood trim, instead we are sticking with our origional plans and painting it white.)

At about 1 oclock we had plans to pick up a matress so we left, had some lunch and got the matress and box spring.

One thing that I have been worrying about is the fact that we don't have any appliances. We haven't moved in yet - so its not a huge deal, but we decided that on Saturday we would also order our appliances. We looked around a couple weekends ago at Home Depot and did some internet research. We also talked to other people that had bought appliances. We planned on waiting until Black Friday to try and score a good deal but after recieving a flier in the mail from Lowes we realized that they were also offering good deals for the Veterans Day sale. My Mom accompanied us to Lowes to order it. I asked the sales man if we should wait until Black Friday and he gave us a little inside tip - Black Friday was going to have the same deals that they currently had the only difference is that they would probably be out of the items that we wanted. So we decided to purchase the set right then and there.

Save up to $1,200 on Select Kitchen Suites

This is the Fridgidaire set that we decided to get. This third tier energey star fridge which was origionally $1299.00 was on sale for for $789.00. Because of its high energy star rating we can also get up to $150.00 rebate from mass save. The stove was origionally $899.00 and we were able to get it for $599.00. We decided not to buy the microwave because we are unsure how our kitchen is going to be set up. We don't know if we want a countertop microwave or a hanging microwave. We also didn't buy a dishwasher because at the moment we have no where to put it. (I guess we will mostly be using paper plates!) The total we saved from this deal was $810.00 and then another $150.00 if we can get the rebate from mass save. The other special that Lowes was running was 18 months of 0% interest financing.

5% Off* Every Day or 18 Months Special Financing**

Once we finished at Lowes I thought we were done for the evening. I thought wrong. We went back to the house for another four hours and got a lot of work done. While Johnny, Nathaniel (my brother) and my Mom finished all the trim in the living room and dining room I edged around the ceilings to prep for rolling the walls. I got my color inspiration from a magazine clipping.

Sorry, not the greatest picture quality but you get the idea.

This is what the color ended up looking like on the wall.

Love it!

Some may think this isn't the greatest painting job, but I say "Who Cares!?" Thats why I suggest you buy the amazing........

It makes miracles by scraping the the excess paint off the windows in one quick swipe.

While I was becoming best friends with the ladder.....

..... Johnny was able to get some inventive work done in the kitchen. Right now the chimney in the kitchen is exposed from when we were tearing down walls. There are two holes in the chimney flue which can be very dangerous because carbon monoxide can enter into the house. We had to temporarily cover it until Paul can come over to patch it up.

Good thing we didn't throw that Pizza box away!

or the plastic from our coca cola case!

After I get some housework and laundry done today, I will back at the house trying to finish painting the living room!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Home Buying Headache

A Shortened guide to home buying.

Why Buy? Johnny and I have lived rent free since we got married with his parents. When we finally decided that we were ready to move out we were faced with the decision of do we rent or do we buy? At first we were leaning more towards renting because we weren't sure if we were ready for the responsibility of buying a home and having a mortgage. We searched for apartments on craigslist and even went to see a few. We only had one condition - we wanted a two bedroom apartment. After searching for a while we couldn't find a decent 2 bedroom apartment for under $800 and that cost didn't even include utilities. With an apartment you are also required to put down first, last and a security deposit which means up front we would have to come up with $2400. That's when we realized that renting wasn't such a great idea. For that price and in this economy we could own a home for just a little bit more. And that's what we decided to do. Our down payment was $3315 and our closing cost was covered by the seller. Our monthly mortgage is going to be $818 a month and we know our money is going towards an investment rather than out the window.

I thought it might be helpful to have a post on some tips and steps to the home buying process seeing as I have learned so much.

1. First Time Home Buyer Certificate. If you are a first time home buyer make sure you take the course before looking at houses because if one comes along that you like you will have to cram the class in during the month that you are closing. The first time home buyer course teaches you the basic things you need to know about purchasing a home. Also try to do some research about the incentive programs in your area. A lot of first time home buyers are approved for tax credit programs, down payment assistance, or closing cost assitance. There are also incentive programs if you need to upgrade your home such as the insulation, windows, or if you have to change from oil to gas.

2. Choose a bank and get a preapproval letter - My mother is awesome. She works for a bank so she helped us with out mortgage. You will need the preapproval letter to determine the price range that you can afford to buy in. You also need the preapproval letter because without it you can't place a bid on a house. The bank is also going to require a lot of other paperwork that you will need to gather together such as your past four paystubs and tax information. I'm glad I'm an organized person and keep that information in one area.

3. Form a wish list. Get a list of things you would like to see in your future home. For example my wish list included hardwood floors, at least 2 bedrooms, hopefully 2 bathrooms, a nice neighborhood, a yard but not a large one so I don't have to do a lot of yard work, a walk in closet and a master bedroom. You will have to sacrifice some of the wishes on your wish list but if a house has a lot of your desires then it could be a keeper. I sacrificed a master bathroom and a walk in closet. The trade off was that we got an extra bedroom and a large attic for room to grow. The other advantages to our home was the updated heating system and the new wiring.

4. Find a realtor (or do the work yourself). Johnny and I have been looking at homes on and off for over a year now so we have done both of these. It's best to find a realtor to represent you. They have access to all the MLS listings (an amazing program that I wish I had on my own computer.)

There are quite a few other options for doing the work yourself. One option is to search the internet. I always looked at and The only issue with this is that a lot of the websites are not up to date and you can very easily miss out on a good opportunity that gets scooped up immediately.

The newspaper is a very reliable source of information because it includes homes for sale, foreclosures and auctions.

 If your not in a huge rush and your willing to deal with the migraine then you can go on bank websites such as and find the bank owned properties. Another website to find bank owned properties, preforclosures, foreclosures and short sales is We dealt with a preforeclosure last November and it was very messy. It went on for over three months without any progress. We finally backed out of the deal and I will never go through it again. You have to deal with the person that is getting foreclosed on and its very sad and not to mention difficult because they are very unaccomadating. Ours wouldn't let us see the house, then he wouldn't let the inspector in and he refused to sign the paperwork. He even bought two kittens and put one in each unit (it was a two family) of the home and they destroyed all the floors. He figured he had a few more months to ride it out without paying a mortgage. In the end, the house ends up going to auction and the people are literally paid to move out.

One other option that you have is to go to an auction. Check your local newspaper for auctions in the area. Any that your interested in drive by and see if you like it. You usually have to bring a bank check for $5000 to an auction and your license. Most times with auctions you don't get to see the inside of the house, so this really hinders your bid. You also need to do some research to make sure that the previous owner didn't have any liens on the house because at an auction you inherit the liens. You can find this information out by looking up the deeds.

Your last option is to do a lot of sight seeing in the areas that you are interested in. As you drive by homes that are for sale you can take down the information on the sign.

How we found our home:

As I mentioned - Johnny and I basically did all of these techniques for looking for a home. The most recent technique we tried was to go to an auction. It was our first auction and when I got there I was pleased to see that there was only one other bidder there. We weren't allowed into the house but we could tell from the outside that the house had a good foundation and a nice structure. We were willing to bid up to $100,000 without seeing the inside of the house. The auctioneer finally began his spiel. Once he was through he said I am going to open the floor to bids but that first bid that I am going to ask for is the bank. (Apparently the bidder that showed up was representing the bank) The lady representing the bank said $169,616. I was shocked. I started laughing and said I guess I won't be bidding! What I later learned is that its very difficult to get a good deal at an auction. The bank usually buys the house back for what is owed on it. They then in turn sell it to Fannie Mae for that price. Once Fannie Mae buys it they then put it on the market for a lower price. This particular house was put on the market for $109,900. So what about the extra $60,000? Well wouldn't you like to know - that's what your tax dollars are going to! Everyday I went on the internet to check if this particular house went on the market and finally it did. Again you could understand why I was stunned by the asking price especially since I knew what the bank bought it for. Immediately I called up the listing agent, told him I want to see the house ASAP, placed a bid on it and the rest is history. Fannie Mae even updated the heating system for us and paid most of our closing cost.

5. Go to some open house, request showings, visit auctions, do drive bys.

6. Place a bid on a home that you like. This is kind of like a game. Most people bid lower than the asking price. In our case we bid a little higher than the asking price because we were afraid of losing the house and we didn't want to risk it.

7. Find an attorney to represent you and make sure they review all paperwork before you sign anything.

8. Sign the purchase and sales. You will be doing a lot of signing of paperwork including the purchase and sales, bank paperwork and at closing. Once the purchase and sales is signed you are under a short time frame to get the isnpection and appraisal done if you choose to back out of the deal.

9. Home inspection. Find a local agency that does home inspections.

10. Appraisal - the bank will send out an appraiser for you to evaluate your property and approve your loan.

11. Find a home insurance. Do some shopping around for home insurance. I find that insurance companies like to rob you of your money. I did some research and found the price range that I wanted my home insurance to be in. I got three quotes and the difference was almost $170 between all of them. I ended up choosing one that was in the price range that I want but it wasn't the lowest one. The benefit was that it reduced my auto insurance because it was on the same policy. Remember, in most cases, especially if you're a first time home buyer you will have to pay your first year of home insurance up front.

12. Sign papers with them. This took about two full hours but I was thrilled when I got the keys!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


I got scolded yesterday by one of my fellow followers who pretty much told me I’m slacking on my blog! So yes, my new name is Slacker. And no, I do not want to lose any of my followers….. especially the ones from Russia, Netherlands and Canada! The last time I posted was on Tuesday November 1st about the pinterest challenge, I’m sure your sick of looking at that and my mooshy love story …. Since the last post I wrote so much has happened! I may have been slacking in the virtual blog world but I have been working hard on my new home. Yep, we’ve got the keys! We closed on Wednesday November 2nd, 2011 and since then I have been focusing most of my energy and spare time there.

Day 1 began our first trip to home depot (which I pretty much feel like I’m going to be living there for now.)

We bought a trash barrel, bags, spackle, sanding sponges and scrapers so we could start working on the walls in the living room. We didn’t want to start working on the house the first day because the oil tanks didn’t have any oil in them. I called to have them filled but the soonest they could come was the 3rd. I dropped everything off at the house and had my first guests Keeana and Mike to visit.
Day 2 was a little less work and a lot more showing and planning. Thankfully the oil was delivered which cost a pretty penny but at least we have heat. We brought Johnny’s parents, Adriana, James and Logan over to see our new project and showed them around so they can imprint in their minds the before and after of our home. If you need a refresher of what the house looks like click below. 
Day 3 of owning our home was a Friday. Sadly we had a wake to attend for our friend who passed away during the big snow storm and we did not feel up to going to the house afterwards. Instead we took comfort in pizza and video games.
Day 4 marks the day of our most important purchase – 4 rolls of toilet paper, hand soap and paper towels. We also bought paint for the living room, brushes, rollers, tape and a ladder. Saturday after the funeral we headed to the house and began working on it. We patched the dents in the walls and did a lot of sanding. I sanded the whole ceiling! So tedious! I decided to reward my wonderful mother and the men in my life (my dad, my hubby, father-in-law, and 3 of my 4 brothers) with some Pizza. I came back, Pizza in hand, walked in the kitchen and looked around and asked where are the cabinets? Actually just 1 cabinet had been taken down at the time and the paneling.

I asked Johnny, if we were shown the house in this condition would we have still bid on it? No way! But I know it has to get worse before it gets better. So bring on the demo! It was pretty scary looking in the kitchen so I sent myself away to do a different task while the guys had their fun. I began scraping the walls going up the staircase and I ripped all the carpeting off the stairs. I think we got a lot accomplished in one day.

Day 5 we made our third trip to home depot. I’m proud of the ryobi tool kit that we purchased. It came with a drill, a blade, a flashlight, two batteries, a saw and a tool bag!

We also bought some 2x4’s, ceiling paint, and a portable light. My father-in-law Jack worked in the kitchen while I sanded the patchwork, taped the windows and began painting to trim.
Day 6 was a Monday so back to the real world and work for me. I wasn’t able to get to the house until 6:30pm to begin working on it. Along came my Mom, Paul, Sheila, Keeana and Mike. I sanded the ceiling a little more. I had plans to paint more of the trim until we stumbled upon a brilliant idea. The paint on the trim was chipping so we decided to strip it to see what was underneath …. And there it was, beautiful dark wood.

At first, for me it was hard to visualize what it will look like especially because I had something else in mind. I was going for a more modern look but if we decided to strip all the trim it will be a rustic style. The big question of the day was - to paint? Or to strip? Its official, after talking to Johnny, we decided to strip it.

 If worse comes to worse and we hate it then we can paint over it again. Stripping the paint is more satisfying anyways!

Day 7 is today. I never know what’s going to happen until I get there!

FYI we appreciate all the good opinions advice that we have been receiving!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Proposal Pillow

Ever since I saw the Pinterest Challenge on I was thinking of what project I wanted to do. I finally decided between two projects. I love the artsy chandelier (in the picture below taken from I also loved this pillow from

1Pinned Image

Saturday afternoon I went out to get the supplies for these projects and I would decide which one to do when I got home. When I was out I was unable to find an old chandelier so the decision was made. I would be making the pillow. The big question is alway DIY or Buy? This 17"X17" pillow from lacefield designs is $150.00 - so I would say DIY is the better way to go. I went to Michaels and bought the following items.

I needed more thread so I bought black and tan. I also bought some fabric paint, a sponge brush, felt and canvas material. The pillow from lacefield designs looks like its a burlap but I could only find canvas at Michaels. I spent $19.00 compared to $150.00.

I drew out the target on the canvas and began painting it with the fabric paint.

I wanted to use felt on my pillow so I decided to make an applique felt heart while the paint dried.

I applied the heart to a circular piece of canvas material so that I could place it as the bullseye of the target.

Then I sewed it on.

I also created an applique arrow, fortune cookie and hand sewed a date onto the pillow.

Surprisingliy I like the pillow I made more than the one on lacefield designs!


It could partly be due to the fact that I added some personal touches to the pillow.

In highschool I hated gym. I never wanted to spend the rest of the day being hot and sweaty. Each semester that I was required to take gym I would take the easy way out and take the archery course and I actually enjoyed it. On December 18, 2008 Johnny invited me over to his house. At this point we had been dating 3 days short to a year. Outside he had a target set up with balloons pinned to it, and he said he wanted to target shoot with me. The only requirement was that I don't shoot the bullseye right away. I alway end up doing the opposite of what I am told and my first shot went straight for the bullseye and popped the balloon.

Out flew a small note. Johnny grabbed it before I got to see what it said. We continued to target shoot and as we popped all the other balloons they had cute sayings in them like nice shot babe.

 Once we were done we had a romantic candle-lit dinner inside (sushi  & pad thai - my favorite meal ever)!

 At the very end I always eat my fortune cookie. I cracked the cookie open, ate it and read the fortune which said .......... Will you marry me!?

 And of course I said YES! Happily Ever After!

Do you have a good proposal story? Share it here!

Damage Done

Need I explain?

In my parents backyard a whole tree came down. The meter box also blew off their house when the power went out.

I just thought this was a great photo - props to my brother Nick.

Another shot of my parents backyard.

Broken branches everywhere.

Hershey posing with the the broken trees.

In front of our mailbox.

 Yes that's my in-laws house hidden behind the massive fallen tree.
Split trees.

This tree was completed uproot from the weight of the leaves and snow.

A lot of the treetops have been snapped off.

Food for thought -Worst case scenario, during a power outage you will become a poor, bored, smelly, starving, frozen, lethargic house-bound individual.

Poor - Unless you usually carry cash around, during a power outage you won't be able to access the ATM for money.
Smelly - A lot of people, when they lose power, they also lose hot water - which means no showers! Eeew!
Bored - No telephones, no internet, no TV, no lights!
Starving - If you have an electric stove, you won't be cooking during a power outage. Also the grociery stores around us were ran on back up generators and they cook only sell non-perishable foods. (No dairy, meat or seafood.)
Frozen - No heat = freezing! Burr, bundle up!
Lethargic - During the 36 hours that I was without power I missed my coffee machine most.
House Bound - It was unbelievable to think that we couldn't get any gas in our area. We had to travel outside our town to get gas, and even then we had to wait in line for over 45 minutes! The closest gas station to us even ran out!