3.30.2010

I've been waiting...

...for this moment. For when we would be in the throes of making an offer on a house and packing up for a move. I've been picturing it all throughout our long 7 months of waiting to get an offer on our house and now here we are. Life is a clever little thing.

It feels like a lot has happened in this past week, but we have little to show for it. After a painless counter-offer and acceptance from our buyers, we're under contract and moving right along with our sale. The inspection was yesterday and we hope we have little to nothing to fix. Our house is only 2 years old and has been lived in lightly so we'll see what Mr. Inspector comes up with. Our buyers applied for their loan last Friday and since they are putting down a BOAT LOAD of a down payment, I have no fear that the loan process won't be what slows us down. Our agent tells us that they absolutely fell in love with our house and it's decor (thank you very much) so I can relate to the desire with which this couple wants our house no matter what. I, too, tend to fall in love with beautifully decorated homes rather than the ones where clearly no one cared to fill their surroundings with warmth and personality and charm. Poo on them.

As for our buying, we're sort of moving along there as well. We've picked a house in Apex that would have to be built, but they say can be done in 60 days. We're assuming that will really be about 3 months, but who knows. We are meeting with our agent on Friday to write up our offer and then we'll be crossing our fingers that the builder takes it! I don't want to spill too many details now, so stay tuned for the fill-in on this deal after it's (hopefully) accepted.

Last night, we dove into packing in a big way. We packed up our umpteen thousand books, an equal amount of bedding and sheets, towels, office supplies, and paper products from my Kelley McFarland Paper days. I like to be oh-so-organized when I pack and Seth...well, he's not quite that gentle. We did fairly well packing together and we got a good amount done. We figure if we pack a little bit like that each night we'll be in good shape. We've got a 3 day weekend this week and I plan on using some of Friday to get a good chunk done.

Packing is tricky since we need to take some stuff to my parent's house and some stuff to storage. I hate storage. HATE. I don't know why. It's dark and sketchy and weird. The storing of things is the only crappy part of this process. Of course, I'd rather move straight into my new home, but the wait will be worth it this time. We are going to try to move ourselves - both into the storage unit and to the new house. I'm thinking the house will be ready end of the July at the latest, and I think my Sethie will reconsider moving in the hot hot heat of July once we get there. We'll see.

I hope you people still read my posts even if they don't have pictures in them :( They'll be coming soon!!!

3.24.2010

Bye-Bye Boonies

Well, we did it! We sold our house! It's amazing and it all happened so fast it makes all those months of waiting seem like they never happened. I can't take the credit, clearly the Lord knew the best time for us, and that just happened to be on my birthday. A little birthday present from above!

Last Friday, we got a notification for a showing for Saturday afternoon. We thought nothing of it and got the house ready as usual. We spent our day out of the house buying me a new bike and then going biking on the American Tobacco Trail with my in-laws that afternoon. The showing was over a 2 hour block so we made ourselves scarce for the day.

In the car, on the way home from our long day out, I checked my email. My inbox contained an email from our agent indicating that our visitors LOVED our house and said it was "their pick of the day" out of all the homes they had seen. We were excited but still holding back in case they didn't make an offer. After all, we'd had one couple come back for a second showing before and ended up choosing another house in another county. So we (mostly me) tried to hold back on getting too excited.

By Sunday morning, our forward-thinking got the best of us and we skipped church and went to Apex to check out some new homes that had just been finished. To rewind just for a second...in one of my last posts I mentioned having my eye on my dream home that had just been reduced by $90,000. As luck would have it, that home went under contract with another buyer the Friday night before our showing to what would be our future buyers. So that's off the table. Back to the present, the house we looked at and (I) fell in love with is in the same neighborhood as my dream home that would not be. However, I actually like the newer house better. It just spoke to me when we walked in the front door. It felt like the family home I'd always envisioned living in.

A few minutes into our visit, the on-site agent scooted over on his multi-passenger golf cart, popped inside, and chatted with us for a bit. He told us a bit about what happened to the neighborhood and its builders when the market collapsed, and what they hoped for the future. We asked specifically if the model home was for sale and he told us that it was not. Hmm. Weird. It's listed in MLS so I'm not clear on how that works. But that told us that if we wanted one of these homes that we would not be seamlessly moving from one house to the next. We'd have to build one of these homes which can take 3 months or so. I won't bore you with all the details, but right now, our plan is to move in with my parents (help me Lord) for a few months, and save money while our house is being built (if we determine we definitely want
that house and can afford it).

I'm determined to do things right this time. I've learned that LOCATION is really and truly the most important thing. Choosing the wrong location can spoil the love you have for your home and you should always listen to your gut. I want my next house to bring me to tears when I walk in the front door after we close. I want to be so excited to move in that I can't sleep the night before. I want to see other homes that may be beautiful inside and out, but at the end of the day when I come home to MY house, I want to love it just the same.

I can't wait to share with you where we end up next!

3.18.2010

Follow the yellow dot blog

I just added the followers gadget and sadly, there's only 3 of you. If you read this blog, become a follower! Don't be shy! I will love you for reading my blog, even if you think I'll think you're a stalker. Chances are, I'm stalking you, too!

Disaster Cakes

I've been reading food blog after food blog after food blog during this long stretch of down-time at work, and last night my desire to BAKE SOMETHING just bubbled over and I dove in! The diving happened AFTER I realized we only had about half a cup of milk and I needed a cup and then some. So I made a quick run to the grocery store and then I got to diving...or so I thought.

After reading about That's the Best Frosting I've Ever Had, I just couldn't take it anymore. I HAD to try this stuff. I love to bake cupcakes and cakes so I needed to know if this was the frosting I'd been searching for. But who wants to make frosting without cupcakes to schmear it on? So I set out to make PW's Best Chocolate Sheet Cake Ever but cupcake-style. However, the stupid grocery store only carried one brand of buttermilk and of course they were ALL OUT. So I had to scrap that recipe and search for another.

I've started a little collection of cupcake recipe books and made the atrocious error of pulling the wrong one off the shelf last night. My mom had this cookbook at her house and she gave it to me because the printing inside is so very teeny tiny. I still have good eyes and don't need readers to read so I took it. Last night, I flipped to the only chocolate cupcake recipe I could find in said book, squinted my eyes and got close enough to read the instructions and got baking.

Here's the recipe:
6 tbsp butter, softened, or soft margarine
1/2 cup superfine sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tbsp milk
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
scant 1 5/8 cups self-rising white flour
generous 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa

As I followed the instructions - beat together butter and sugar, gradually add eggs beating well after each addition, then add milk, then fold in chocolate chips (I thought this was weird, but whatevs), then sift in flour and cocoa and VOILA! Batter! - I quickly noticed this batter was unlike any I'd made before. It was thick and dough-like and definitely not pourable as cake batters generally are.

I was frustrated but I kept going. I added a little bit more milk to make it slightly easier to work with and spooned a generous tablespoon of batter into 12 cupcake liners. Even if this was to be a dramatic failure, I was going to see it through to the end. I had a speck of hope that the cupcakes would blossom in the oven and come out tasting spectacular.

Eh. You win some, you lose some. These cupcakes came out of the oven as disgusting as they went in (I should've taken a picture of the batter, but I didn't want to get my iPhone all caked up). You can see in the picture how all the butter came out and soaked into the cupcake liner (the dark parts are buttery stains). I even tasted one. They were hot so not at their peak of flavor, but definitely not yum enough to eat a whole one or waste the frosting on.

I went over the recipe a million times. The Husband was there, he'll vouch for that. I did it all right. Got all the right amounts of things. It was just a mess. First I wondered if I should've been patient enough to let my eggs come to room temperature. The butter and sugar didn't mix too well with the egg. But I thought that wouldn't really affect the liquidity of the batter. But then, BUT THEN, (and by THEN I mean, this morning) I realized my probable problem. THE FLOUR. I used all-purpose flour instead of self-rising white flour. This didn't even cross my mind last night. I store my flour in my grandmother's antique flour storage canister and it's not labeled anything other than "flour" so...I failed. HOWEVER, even with the right flour, I don't see how that would've changed the consistency of the batter. I definitely see how it would change the outcome of the cakes - um, they would've actually risen instead of becoming the lumps of dried batter they were - but not the plain ole batter. GAH.

On a happier note, the freaking frosting was FABULOUS. PW only whipped hers for 45 seconds, but I let mine whirl for several minutes. I saw in some of the comments on TastyKitchen that some people let it whip for 15 minutes and I might do that next time. This may be one of those frostings that's greatly affected by climate. Mine took a while to really whip the butter out of it's shell and become the light and airy frosting TK promised. It was delightful and I can't wait to use it on SUCCESSFUL cupcakes - the opposite of these:

3.17.2010

I notice these things...

UPDATE # 2,472: My FIL posted a link to the info on my awesome building in the comments for this post. It seems its history is awesome, too! The building was the Raleigh Water Tower. Isn't that neato? In 1938 after the water needs of the city outgrew this tower, an architect bought the building. He converted the tower to 4 floors and it's been used as work space ever since. I was right about AIANC - they are still there, but my favorite tidbit of information is that Dorton Arena was designed inside this building! I'm a sucker for historic properties!

Since my husband has chosen programming over moi, his precious wife, during lunch this week, I took advantage of today's gorgeous weather and:

had lunch outside.

on the fire escape.

at work.

Sidebar: I'm just giving the hubs a hard time. He's not had the passion to program in a while and I'm glad he's diving in and excited about it.

Anyway, a co-worker of mine walked down to Subway to get lunch today and came back exclaiming, "There's a new restaurant! A new restaurant!" Guess that's all I need to say to indicate the same places over and over get a bit old. She said it was right next to Subway and she decided to try it. It's a healthy food place, but not like granola-healthy, like at home cooking healthy. She came back with chicken, brown rice, and green beans. Plus a flier so I could see what else they had. It was their grand opening.

So I walked my happy self down there for lunch and grabbed a smoked turkey wrap. When I came back to the office, my usual lunching spot (the conference room) was occupied, so I went out on the fire escape. Lucky for us, a fire escape is right in the middle of our office and we have it all to ourselves. I went out there and enjoyed the breeze and the sun and chowed down.

Lunch was good - felt healthy and lite, but definitely not flavorless. I'd try the new place again for sure.

But enough about lunch, let's get on with the observations I made while lunching. First of all, this building is right across the street from my office and I've admired it since I first started working here. I'd never noticed it before even though I've been down Morgan Street a million times in my life. It's sandwiched between the AT&T building (note large, strange receiver-type device behind it) and a beautiful old church. There's a plaque by the front door, but I've never gotten close enough to read it. It appears people are in there working, but I am just dying to know what this place is! It's like a little lighthouse in the middle of the city. It's the neatest thing. * After about 5 seconds of Googling, I found out that the American Institute of Architects North Carolina is housed in this awesome building. However, I want to know what it's original use was so the search continues...*

**Ok, I think I was wrong. GoogleMaps helped me to see that AIANC may actually be housed in the building BEHIND this awesomeness. DANG. I'm going to walk over there on my break - which is in 20 mins. Then I'll let ya'll know since I know you're just sitting on my blog refreshing the page every minute waiting for me to post something NEW! and EXCITING!**

***I was too lazy to walk over there on my break. Plus, I didn't want to look like a freak peering in the windows.***

As I sat perched on the fire escape, my building at my back, I looked to my right and to my left. I saw the same thing on either side, yet they were different. I saw 2 buildings, separate from my building, but so close it was almost comical. I wondered which building came first? And who was the dummy who decided to build the following buildings so darn close to my building? Behold, I have pictures.

This was the view to my left. I have no clue what's in this building or what it's used for...other than a place for the homeless people to pee. It's less than a foot from the side of my building (which is the one on the left). WHY!?!?!

This was the view to my right. Again, different building, no clue what it's for. Judging from what I could see in the windows, it's a storage building for broken down cardboard boxes. My building is the one on the right. What you see through the crack is actually part of my building as well. My building is shaped like a "C" with an icky courtyard (nothing you'd actually want to visit) in the middle. For some reason, the courtyard side is brick and the street view is...something else (?). Granite? I dunno. Also, I should point out that the nice lovely window pictured here belongs to an office in my suite. It's an empty office. Yes, a wasted window opportunity. It breaks my heart. One day, I will have an office with a dang window. And I will appreciate it every day!

I just found this weird. So I shared it with the internet.

What I did not photograph was the view in front of me. The Church of the Good Shepherd is there and its new wing was my view. The 2 buildings pictured above seem like they should be a part of the church, but they do not touch the church nor do they seem to go with the church. It's just a bizarre things to see 2 buildings rounding out a square (or is it squaring out a square?) of church, building, building, Old Revenue Building and 2 of them seem to be completely disconnected from either building with a purpose.

It was bothering me. Hence, the blog entry. Also, I am a nerd.

UPDATE: Have installed a rad diagram for you. Please click on it to enlarge so you may fully appreciate its detail and awesomeness.
I will say, knowing how State Government works, I would not be surprised if both buildings belonged to the state and they are general storage buildings for miscellaneous junk and things. How fancy.

Also, I was scared of dropping my iPhone down the fire escape. I know you were wondering.

3.16.2010

VITs (Very Important Things)

If you're a loyal reader, there are just some things you need to know. So grab a pen and paper and get ready to take notes. These things are not to be forgotten.

1. I've officially booked 4 plane tickets to NYC May 28-31! It's a girl's weekend trip with me, my mom, Brenda (the MIL) and Skye (the SIL) and we're all very excited to go. After what seemed like forever of hanging on the edge of making solid plans, we're finally booked and I'm now working on a hotel. That's 95% secure as well so things are moving right along.

I've never been to the city in warm weather so I'm really looking forward to walking the streets without being weighed down by a big winter coat, hat, gloves, and scarf. It always makes popping in and out of stores a big pain, too. Outside you're freezing, you go inside and you're sweating. But you're not inside long enough to justify taking off the outside gear so you suffer.

I hope to see new things on this trip. I'm looking forward to traveling with my mom and getting her back to the city that she loves as much as her daughter does. She, however, hasn't been back since 1999, and I've at least been back once since then. I think she'll find it even better now.

2. We've re-listed our house and had an open house this past Sunday. ONE COUPLE came - but that is one couple more than has ever attended an open house at our home before so I was happy! They said the house was gorgeous, but I have no clue whether or not they are active house hunters or not.

I'm pretty much at the peak of my frustration with the speed at which our house selling is moving. I know I can't do much about it, but making it worse is that my dream house was reduced $90,000 last week. It's now affordable! Before it was WAY out of our range. Now it's at the top, but in my opinion, totally worth it for my dream.

I'm worried it'll get snatched up before we can take a stab at an offer on it, but what can you do? I know if it's meant to be it'll be, but that's so hard to accept when you dream!

Here's our new listing.

3. I turn 32 on Tuesday. Oh. How horrible. I was OK with 31, but 32 is like I'm REALLY in my 30s. To ease the pain, my Sethie got me 2 cute pairs of shoes and pre-ordered an iPad which will come in late April, early May :)

4. I'M GOING TO SEE THE SWELL SEASON AGAIN! VERY excited! Finally, no traveling to see them. We're going to go to the NC Art Museum (where our wedding reception was held) to hear them play at the outdoor amphitheater. SO FUN!

Those are the most important things I had to share today. Hope you've taken detailed notes as there will be a quiz later.

3.04.2010

Another house update...snooooooze

OK!

So our house!

It's still on the market!

Yeah, I know you're all surprised it didn't sell in the 7 days since I last posted a house update. You'll just have to get over your disappointment.

I do have news, though. Not good, not bad, just....news.

First of all, I've decided to only compose one sentence paragraphs from here on out. Just kidding - I noticed I was doing that and wanted to point it out.

Yesterday after work Seth and I met with our wonderful agent, Edna. Our current listing is set to expire on March 14th so we wanted to come up with a new game plan for our new listing. We had no idea what to expect really. We'd thought this thing to death and couldn't really come up with how to approach the new listing. When I say "we" I mean me and Seth. We smooshed our non-real estate-agent heads together and thought real hard. But came up with nothing.

Edna was prepared, though. She suggested we relist and ..... UP our price ..... BUT offer to pay all the buyers closing costs. After I picked my jaw up off the floor we heard her out. We were shocked (well, I was anyway), but I tried to play it cool. She suggested we up it, cover the closing costs, and that will essentially bring us back down to what we're listed at right now anyway. So it all evens out. She thinks that even with going up on the price (we're still not the highest in our subdivision), that buyers will be attracted to the idea of being able to buy our house with no money out of pocket. Hey, I'd love to have that happen to us!

Our house qualifies for 100% financing, and with the tax incentive, we're hoping to sell in the next 8 weeks or less. That's the ultimate goal anyway. Seems like serious buyers both first time and repeat buyers have a reason to buy before the incentive expires and we hope our house will be part of the party. Time will tell - and I will, too, what with all these house updates and whatnot.

The flip side of home selling is home BUYING, and I hope we get to do that in the near future. I've mentioned that we've found and fallen for some new town homes in the Cary area. I continue to look for other homes, but constantly compare them the town homes and so far, the town homes come up the winner each time. I'm pretty picky about houses and it really takes a lot to grab my attention.

I've got my eye on the first place to give the THs a run for their money so far. Seth's not sure about location, but I see the value in it's location. Both in terms of helping my mom and being convenient for us to and from work, errands, and potentially schools in the future. Its price was just reduced yesterday and honestly, I was surprised it was even still on the market with its adorable self! I was looking at it online yesterday and for one reason or another I refreshed the page and saw the price change. Right there in front of my eyes! It was fun - after I did a quadruple take, I believed it. So now it's even better. Another 1700 square foot charmer in Raleigh. Not sure how long it'll last with the price reduction, but again, time is the only one who's telling.

No, I will not say anything specific about the house because I will jinx it. So just chill. If you're lucky it'll show up in a post one day as our new home. That or one of those fancy town homes...

3.01.2010

Puppy Love

We spent 2 hours at the vet on Saturday morning only to come away feeling no sense of accomplishment or relief as to how to help our puppy dog. During the past week, Three had a couple of accidents in the house which is highly unusual for her at this point. Then we noticed when we'd let her outside she was peeing more than one time each trip. At first we thought she could possibly be marking (even though this is mostly something boy dogs do) because she's seen that our neighbor's stupid dog comes in our yard to do his business sometimes. We thought she might be feeling territorial (or terrier-torial.) But by Friday when it was still going on and she seemed antsy at night and always had the "I need to go pee pee" look on her face, we decided to go have her checked out.

Our vet is open from 9am-1pm on Saturdays so this worked out well for our schedules. We suspected she might have a UTI. We took her in and they did a urinalysis, took an x-ray, and even drew some blood. The urinalysis didn't show a UTI, but did show that she had some calcium oxidate crystals in her urine which can sometimes indicate the presence of a stone (in her bladder or kidney). Hence, the x-ray...which was disappointing. They didn't see one in her bladder, but saw some weird spot on the x-ray which COULD be a stone traveling from her kidney to her bladder but THEY WEREN'T SURE. Great! :|

They drew blood because Three has Addison's Disease and they want to do a stem test to make sure all her cortisol levels are where they should be. This takes a few days so we won't know if that's the problem until early this week. We left with some antibiotics to give her just in case she was in the early stages of a UTI, but so far we can't tell if they are helping much. She's still peeing more than once when we take her out (but not as much). And, $242 later, we got to leave the vet.

The thing is, as much as that stings the wallet (esp. on a month when I got UNDERPAID by about $500+ - long story), I would do anything for that dog. She is my love and my sweet angel baby and money seems to be no object if it means we can make our dog feel better. Saturday night Seth went to play poker and it was just me and Three, home alone. She was curled up on the warmest blanket ever sleeping away and I found myself just watching her. My eyes welled up with tears remembering how scary it was when she was first diagnosed with Addison's. We almost lost her back then, but they diagnosed her at the last minute. I feel for her when she's not feeling well or something is bothering her. I want to fix it for her and when I can't I get all emotional. That's not easy for me either thanks to the ole Lexapro. For tears to come to my eyes, I must be really affected by something.

Basically, I'd do anything for Three. She's the best thing we have right now and we'll protect her like crazy if it means she'll be happy.