Monday, September 3, 2012

I've been held house-stage.

So.  Um. Yea. Blogging.  See I have an excuse...

I've been held house-stage.  That's like being held hostage, but with less weaponry and more paint brushes.  See, so we bought this house, right?  And I figured, that we'd paint and what-not, and I would blissfully update my blog with copious before/after pix weekly.  Yea...not so much.  Sorry if this is picture heavy. 

(Here's a pretty hydrangea from the yard to break up the text.)

Firstly: Buying a house is a Learning. Experience.  I learned more about the financial industry than I ever wanted to know.  I signed more paper than I thought humanly possible.  I signed a sheet of paper that I acknowledged that I would be investigated by the FBI if I committed mortgage fraud and/or laundered money for terrorists.  Whut?  Why do I have to sign that?  Aren't they gonna do that anyway whether I sign that or not?  So much for the paperwork reduction act.  Also people who work in this industry use industry terms.  It's like another language.  They also assume you know what they mean.  If they aren't willing to explain themselves in English a 5th grader would understand, get someone else.   They will not explain anything over email. 

Secondly: Owning a house is a Learning. Experience., and it's a completely different one than buying it.  Here are some of the things I have learned so far:

1.  Things will start to break before the ink is dry on the closing documents, and it will be different things than you are expecting and/or budgeting for. 

For us that list includes one toilet leaking into the basement like it was raining, part of the deck railing getting broken by a piece of tree falling on it, and more than half the lightbulbs burning out, especially all the specialty ones.  I won't count the light fixture Mr Belfry broke.  That wasn't really the light fixture's fault.  Though we still haven't found the circuit breaker for it.  I was gonna replace that one anyway.  

(The white bits are pieces of deck railing.)

2.  The fun-ness of painting decreases in proportion to the amount of it you have to do.  See graph:

Painting one room is fun.  Painting two rooms is sorta fun.  Painting any more than that is drudgery.  I figured it would be fun and quick and we'd be done in no time.  We painted my sister's house in a week!  Of course, I conveniently forgot that even though it was about the same number of rooms, she has about half the square footage; there were between 4-8 people working the whole time; and my knees were almost 10 years younger. 

    2b Cathedral ceilings suck. Invest in the best ladder possible or hire it done. 

3. Washing a wall before you paint is Very Hard Work.  Washing walls and having the previous paint job (not ours) peel off is demoralizing. 

    3b. Primer stinks, but sometimes it's the best and fastest solution.  

4. Painting the trim makes a huge difference. 

 (before)                                                            (after, Olivia's happy)

5. If you're painting one room, it makes less difference.  But if you're painting a bunch, buy the highest quality paintbrush and roller handle.  Yes, it hurts to spend $15 or more on a single paintbrush. The higher the quality, the less the brush weighs.  That makes a difference after 4 or 5 hours.  You can either spend $15 on the best paintbrush or you can spend $20 on the cheap paintbrush and the best paintbrush you use to replace the cheap one you bought first. 

5b. You can use cheap roller pads if you first wrap them in painter's tape to get the fuzz off.  

6. Oven cleaner takes latex paint off a stainless steel sink.

7. Buy the best quality of furnace filter you can afford.  What?  You'd rather dust? 

8. Don't talk your spouse out of replacing all the carpet.  No really.  Spring for new the carpet/floor refinishing before you move in.  Do you really want to move the furniture twice?  At least spring for a professional carpet cleaning.

(This is the water tank off the carpet cleaner after working on the carpeted stairs. No the black part isn't plastic. The whole thing is clear.  Yea, I know.)

9. Just because you moved it into the new house is no reason to have to keep it, whatever IT is.  Thank goodness there's a Sally store down the street. 

10.  Hanging a towel bar and getting it level is really damn satisfying.

Someday we will sell this house.  Here are some things I have learned that I will do (or not do) before I sell.  Maybe this list will benefit you too.

1. Scented candles, especially in mass quantities, are Very Bad.  Do not use them or paint often.  Besides not everyone likes Hollyhock Pomander Citrus Brownie.   (Beside the issue of the smoke, anything scented and heated uses oils for the scent.  Those oils linger and turn rancid over time. Do you want your house to smell like rancid oil? Ask me how I know.) 

2. Wash the windows before you list.

3. If you have machine washable curtains, wash them once in awhile.  At least wash them once before you sell.  

(This is the wash cycle with most of the curtains in it.  Yes, it looks like coffee.  I can't tell you how bad they smelled.  Seriously 100% polyester curtains really can be washed once a decade or so.)

4. When your rugs sound like toast when you walk on them, it is time to throw it away.  

     4b. When the non-slip backing is crunchy and no longer keeps the rug from slipping, do not adhere it to the floor with duct tape. 

5. If we are not living in the house while we are trying to sell it, I will hire a cleaning company to come in periodically to do touch-ups. 

    5b. I will clean the oven.  With Easy Off No Fume oven cleaner, it takes 3 hours and 15 minutes.  1 minute to spray the whole thing; 3 hours to soak; 14 minutes and one roll of paper towels to wipe it out.  (Not paid to say that. Two ovens later, just damn impressed.  Gas ovens even.)

I have been doing a little quilting and a fair amount of knitting.  I've been working on one quilt since January.  It's only 4' square,but it's got close to 1000 pieces. Pictures after the intended receiver gets it.   I started some mindless sewing while perched on boxes of unassembled Ikea furniture.  Eventually, my studio is gonna be awesome.  I love the paint color.    But right now, it and most of the rest of the house are still adrift in a sea of cardboard. 


Saturday, May 5, 2012

No UFOs, but a house update

 So, yea...I've been a bad blogger. I've also been neglecting my quilting, so not much progress on my UFO list.  There's been some, but I'll catch you up another time. The big news is we bought a house.  We're now into our third weekend of painting.  Everything needs to be painted.  Everything.  

Here's our first room: This is Mr.Belfry's office.  It's kind of long and rectangular.  Originally the room had stripes running around it. The "white" color is actually a beige. You can see the difference up near the ceiling.

We sampled paint colors which was a lot of fun.  Lots like finger painting. There are three shades of blue, one turquoise, one white and two browns.  We picked the medium blue. 

Here's the in process shot.  This corner is opposite the door.  

While mama didn't raise people afraid of a little hard work, she did raise people with short arms.  The three upstairs rooms all have vaulted ceilings, so we're waiting on a taller ladder to finish up this room.  There's one or two small spots that need a second coat as well, and we need to replace the outlet covers.  

The second weekend we worked on our bedroom which will get a second coat tomorrow.  Pics forthcoming. 

Today we're working on the guest room which does not have vaulted ceilings (Thank God!).  It does however have to be washed.  Have you ever washed walls?  Not fun.  The previous owner sold scented candles.  We also now think this room hasn't been painted since the house was built in the early 50s.  

So the picture below is one wall....You're seeing about an 8 foot square. There's just the top of an outlet visible.  All those gray streaks are dirt and grime.  It's been washed three times already. It's been washed three times with the stuff from the hardware store that requires you wear gloves and long sleeves. 

We painted one wall as a test to see how well the paint will cover the grime.  We'll find out in about an hour when we head over.  Fortunately, we think there's only one other room with walls like this.  We've been using the paint + primer and it's covering really nicely, but we might have to break down and use a straight primer.  I hate them because they smell so noxious.  

My advice to you, if you're selling a house: Paint everything a nice neutral color.  Heck, just prime everything.  It will increase your sales price. We have stripes to paint over, one room that's royal blue, one room closet and hallway that are a dark golden tan, plus two rooms and a half bath that are just dirty.  There's a reason we got our house for almost $100K less than the original asking price.  

Well, off to the salt mines!  More updates later

Thursday, March 1, 2012

February UFO

I have a finish for February.  Here's how it started:  

I started this project on my old machine and the seam allowance was a little ....subjective, if you want to be diplomatic, so I had to trim down all the half square triangles.   Here's the during photo:

And here is the after.  I'm not sure what I originally intended for these blocks, but I made it into a runner for my china hutch.  I added a large block of red at each end to make it longer. 

A close-up:

This is a picture of my mascot.  He cheers me along as I finish my P.I.Gs (Projects in Grocery bags).  Silently of course. 

And the length: 

That's not all I've been working on though.  I have to have a gift for the officers in my PEO chapter who are stepping down next month.  This bag pattern came from Quilts and More, Spring 2011. It was fun to make.

Which is a good thing....

Because I just couldn't stop...

A couple were test runs ...

And, I needed one for myself too.  

On the house buying front, for anyone who cares, we have found a house.  We are knee-deep in the ridiculous amount of paperwork required for this process.  House-buying is not for the faint of heart, and quite frankly, if the economy is ever going to turn around they need to simplify this process.  As our loan person says, "The banks think everyone is a terrorist unless proven otherwise."  Gee thanks.  Of course our loan application that has the incorrect purchase price has to be signed and returned anyway, THEN we'll get 9 more pages to sign on top of the incorrect 31 pages.  


Sunday, February 12, 2012

January UFO

I've often heard that searching for a job is a full-time job in itself.  I didn't realize searching for a house is kind of the same way.  Right now, we have found a really great realtor and are shopping for a comparison on loans.  And, we have found a couple of houses that we like.  

So, UFOs.  I didn't finish one in December because I lost a little over a week to the flu.  I did get this done though:  The flower i finished in January.  

My January to-do list included 4 things: Finish the applique stars (UFO), Finish taking apart the sunbonnet sue, finish 1 Le Jardin block, and do 15 minutes of cross stitch.

The applique stars began as a kit.  I can't seem to find my before picture.  I bought it during my "hand applique is the answer to All Things" phase.  I don't know where the pattern or border fabrics went.  So....I took a few of the stars I liked, fused and machine appliqued them down, then made them into this.  The tan fabric is a cotton/poly remnant I picked up a couple years ago from JoAnn's.  I liked it because it looked a little like linen, and it was $1.88.  The ribbon i also had on hand.  

Now I have a lovely sewing machine cover which will come in handy when i'm dealing with this: 

Did you know after you wash a quilt a few dozen times your batting starts to turn to mulch?  Now you know.  

I finished my cross stitch assignment.  This is the sampler on the list on the right.  I really like cross stitch, but my enthusiasm wanes very quickly after starting it.  I've got three more projects lined up after I finish this one.  :P  I was surprised how much I could get done in 15 minutes, so I might actually finish it this year.  I can work on it as much as I want, but I only have to do 15 minutes. 

Lastly,  Finish one LJ block.  This is a BOM I signed up for a couple of years ago, and couldn't keep up with.  I truly love both the pattern and fabrics though, so I'm chipping away at it.  I've got a little embroidery left, then this block is done!   When it's finished, it will hang in the guest room of the new know, depending on which one we get.  ;)  

February UFO is well under way, but it's competing with a couple other projects for my attention.  More on those later.


Monday, January 2, 2012

UFOs for 2012

Happy New Year!

I just finished updating my UFO list.  I started with 42 items last year and took 16 off the list.  Fourteen were finished and two simply removed.  Not too shabby.  Here's what's left.  When you also consider that I also worked on 9 of these, but didn't finish them; that's a lot of sewing.  I know this is going to be a busy year with a move in the works, but my goal is to at least cut this list in half again.  Good luck with your lists!

  • Grandmother's Flower Garden
  • Applique stars
  • Chez Moi quilt 2
  • Fabric roses
  • Subway quilt
  • Le Jardin BOM
  • Squares quilt for LR
  • Glorified nine-patch hanging
  • Fassett snowballs
  • Tiny 4 patches
  • Silk scarf
  • Cross-stitch alphabet sampler
  • Vintage Valentine BOM
  • Buzzin' along applique
  • Sunbonnet sue cheryl
  • Small art quilt
  • Stone lark quilt
  • Black and pink 4 patch
  • Hummingbird applique
  • Honeybee blocks
  • Rise and shine quilt
  • Canterbury bells applique
  • Hawaiian appliques
  • Peppermint pinwheels
  • Tangerine tropicale