Wednesday, May 27, 2009

23: New Things

Last week I has plans to meet a girlfriend for dinner, and she suggested Santa Rita Tex-Mex Cantina. Time to try something new!

I think the restaurant is fairly new itself, and owned by the same people responsible for a couple of my favorites: 34th Street Cafe and Blue Star Cafeteria.

Anyway, I liked it. Service and food were good, and my pear margarita was not only very tasty but surprisingly pink. I'd have to try their queso to determine Santa Rita's ranking on my favorite Austin Tex-Mex spots list, and I hear their Tres Leches cake is divine, so I think a second trip there is in my future. On a day when I'm reaaaally hungry. Or, perhaps on a day when I feel like queso and cake for dinner. ha!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Counter-Counter

During the last installment of my real estate roller coaster ride, the seller was considering my offer and the other remaining offer. My agent called to let me know the seller had a counter offer proposal for me. Allegedly, the other offer was higher than mine, but they liked my offer better because I was putting down more of a down payment. So the owner (her son-in-law, actually) suggested I pay $1000 more and pay for the appraisal (which I'd asked them to pay for).

Well, $1000 more than my offer is ALL my money. Meaning, I have none left to replace their 1985 original dark salmon-colored carpet because I am not touching my tiny emergency fund. Ugly old carpet is not an emergency! And they're not offering an allowance for flooring. I said no. I said I'd pay for the appraisal, but not offer any more money. (Background: the appraisal would be about $400. If I offered $1000 more on the total house price, my down payment would be higher, and likely so would my monthly payment. Paying for the appraisal let me keep more $ in my pocket.) My agent called the owner's agent. The owner's agent called the owner. I felt like a hardball-playing pro!

Probably 20 minutes later, my agent called back to let me know they'd accepted my offer. Whooo!

The inspection was Friday morning. I was really nervous--I could tell the owner had taken good care of the house, but she was the original owner of 24 years. That's a long time, especially if things like the A/C were also original. Luckily, the inspection went really well. I got there about 30 minutes earlier than my agent, while the inspector was still. . .inspecting, so that I could take pictures and measurements. There were a bunch of tiny repairs needed, like caulking here and there, and three somewhat more major things that needed attention. I talked things over with my agent (and my mom, who is like a home improvement guru) and decided to ask the owner to take care of two of the items: treatment for the beginning of a carpenter ant invasion, and fixing a slow leak visible on the foundation along the outside of the house at the laundry room.

We presented the requests to the owner, and I had to wait until Saturday night to find out that they accepted and agreed. Whoooo!

It's starting to look like I'm going to be the proud owner of a Pink House in two to three weeks. I should be officially under contract by midnight on Thursday. Fingers crossed that everything goes smoothly from there--I took a wildly optimistic (for me) step of buying a refrigerator on Monday (tax free weekend for home appliances that are energy star rated). Sure, I could always cancel the order, but I'm trying to think positive. And think Pink!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Get Your Tickets

I am riding a real estate rollercoaster!
So the Pink House offer went in (competing with two other offers) on Monday morning. The home owner is an elderly lady (who has owned the home since it was built), and she's moved on to California to live with family there. Her agent had to call her Monday evening so that one of her family members would be home to help explain the offers to her.
This morning, I found out she chose a different offer. Allegedly, the offer she selected was more attractive than mine because they were suggesting an earlier closing date that I chose. I don't know whether I believe that, or not. My agent and I chose a closing date that's quick, but allowed time for my fantastic mortgage guy to get everything in order on the finance side. Anyway, I heard the news, felt a little down, but started thinking about moving forward and the next steps I'd take.
Then my agent called back a few hours later. The person whose offer was accepted changed their mind. Now, the home owner's agent is going to talk to her again this evening and ask her to pick between my offer and the other remaining offer.
Interesting tidbit: my paternal grandmother lived in a pink house. Grandmother B loved pink. The exterior of her house was light pink, with darker pink trim. Inside her pink house, there were pink rugs and pink wallpaper (with gold accents). Some of the wood furniture even had a pink glow. Grandfather B was a very understanding, accomodating, and wonderful man. If his sweetie wanted a pink house, by golly, he'd live there and not say a word about it.
If I end up owning the Pink House, I won't be keeping the pink, but I'll always know there's pink underneath. And that will make me smile.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Pink Houses for You and Me

I'm making an offer on a pink house today. It's not PINK like the picture, but there's no mistaking the current owner's favorite color.

Especially considering the color of the carpet I'll be ripping out if I end up getting the house. Yep, dark pink.

There are two other offers, but I'm not feeling anxious about it. If this is The House, I'll get it. If not, I'll keep looking. (And hoping something comes up SOON.)

Friday, May 15, 2009

More List Edits

A few more edits to the Big List:

16. Clean out closet & donate to Goodwill at least twice a year. (2/4 times)
I'm keeping this item, since I definitely have more to clean out.

17. Photograph & document all belongings for insurance, print photos & keep in safe.
I'm thinking about getting a safe deposit box, since my safe is small (and easy to pick up and steal). But, this item will be completed when I move, safe deposit box or not.

18. Sell car.
19. Buy new car.
It doesn't look like a new car purchase will be in my financial plan before the end of this year, so instead I'm going to change these to work-related items:
18. Consistently arrive at the office (butt in office chair) by :45.
19. Then, make arriving at the office by :30 a new habit.

20. Clean out car (including trunk!) and keep in guest-passenger-worthy shape for six months.
My car has been guest-passenger-worthy for a while now, but the trunk is still full of random crap. Time to clean that out and cross this off the list!

21. Clean out and organize pantry, maintain organization for 730 days.
Already done.

22. Select, print, and frame photos for decoration.
Done, when staging the house for sale.

23. Wear false eyelashes.
I already wanted to change this one, since I realized I actually have fairly long eyelashes anyway. The new #23 will be: Try six new things. (0/6) I am a total creature of habit, so I want to push my comfort zone. These six might be new places to eat, new places to shop, or anything new. I'm pretty excited about this one.

24. Go to the gun range.
I initially added this to the list because the XH always said I never wanted to go to the range w/ him. My recollection is not being invited. We won't be going to the range together now, but I'd like to go at least once with my mom.

25. Buy red shoes.
Love my red shoes, want more.

26. Replace all old bras and panties.
Work in progress, still want to complete.

27. Learn Photoshop Elements.
Bought a book, need to do more hands-on tinkering.

28. Create vacation photo albums.
29. Create wedding/engagement photo album.
I think instead, I'll:
28. Select favorite vacation photos, copy and save for future framing.
29. Take family photos. (Either I'll take them, or find someone to take pics of me with my parents, brother and his family.)

30. Submit a photo to Cute Overload.
Done! Even though the powers that be at C.O. didn't think my kitty was publication worthy, he is still willing to be one of my favorite models. ha!

Friday, May 8, 2009

#31: Reading

Wow, I've already read 13 books I haven't mentioned!

I've been keeping my list up to date on Goodreads, but for the sake of posterity, here's the list and a very very brief review of each:

1. Called Out of Darkness: Started sloooow. Ann Rice's interesting perspective as she goes from a strict Catholic to a non-believer then back to the Church.

2. Living Dead in Dallas: I like this Southern Vampire Series enough to check it out from the library when it's available, read it quickly, and check for the next one on my next library trip.

3. Death in a Strange Country: Commissario Guido Brunetti detective series. Some of this series I like more than others, but overall enjoyable.

4. The Last Queen: Book Club Selection. Interesting & well-written, though violent parts were unpleasant to read.

5. Dressed for Death: More Commissario Brunetti. I wonder if people who have been to Venice recognize the locales described?

6. The Ladies of Grace Adieu: Collection of fairy tales. Liked some more than others, but none enough to read again.

7. Outlander: The first book of the series has me hooked. Stayed up WAY past my bedtime reading this one.

8. The Grift: Book Club Selection. Liked, would read other books by this author.

9. Club Dead: Another Sookie Stackhouse book. Pretty good.

10. Up in Honey's Room: Elmore Leonard is one of my favorite authors. That man can really turn a phrase. This isn't my favorite book of his, but it was pretty good all the same.

11. Death and Judgment: Commissario Brunetti. Half of a 2 books for $1 score at Half Price Books.

12. Acqua Alta: Commissario Brunetti. Second half of aforementiond HPB score.

13. One Thousand White Women: Book Club Selection. Enjoyed, did not love.

And now I'm about 50 pages into Dragonfly In Amber. I'm going to try not to stay up into the wee hours reading it this weekend!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Wanted: New Home (#15)

It isn't always easy for me to remeber this important life lesson: ask for what you want.

I want a new (to me) house. So I'm going to put this out into the universe--or at least out into the internet--and continue to work on remaining patient that my house is out there, and I'll find it soon enough.

I want a new house in one of my four favorite zip codes. Honestly, my first choice of neighborhoods far surpasses the rest, and it's only become my favorite neighborhood in the last month or so. The fourth choice zip code doesn't wow me, but I'm trying to keep an open mind.

I want a new house that I can afford. I've analyzed my budget, I've worked with the mortgage guy, and I know my absolute max. I won't go over that amount. I can't go over that amount!

I want a new house with at least three bedrooms and two bathrooms. Would I love an extra half bath if it works with the floor plan? Sure. If the house has a tiny fourth bedroom, fine. I just don't want a small master bedroom. I'll be moving a brand new king-sized bed into that room, and I need some space.

I want a new house with an open kitchen and at least average-sized living room. I've finally accepted that the kitchen where I live now is a place most people only dream about, especially anywhere near that price range. My current kitchen is easily twice the size of the kitchens of most people I know. My pantry is a walk-in closet under the stairs. I love it all. But it's closed off to the small living room. In my new house, I'm willing to accept an average-sized kitchen (just not a really tiny one, like a few I've seen) and hope it's more open. I think a good trade-off for a non-enormous kitchen is an average-sized living room. Someday I'll have more than just the couch from my college apartment and my t.v., and I want some extra space for those things.

I want a new house that's at least the size (square footage and lot size) of the place where I live now. It's not huge, and a small yard will be more managable for me and my total lack of gardening skills.

I want a new house where the master bedroom is not on the front of the house. A few of the places I've looked at are laid out so that the master is off to one side of the front door. Maybe it's just a weird personal preference or I'm being paranoid about my safety, but I don't like it. If the master was upstairs and facing the street, I might consider it. The room I'm sleeping in now is upstairs and faces the street. It's also right above the garage and not so pleasant when the garage door is opened while I'm sleeping. I'd have to otherwise love my new house to accept an upstairs front-of-house master bedroom.

I want a new house that isn't the nicest house on the street. I'm probably going to be selling my new house in a few/several years, and I don't want to have a hard time because the rest of the houses on the street don't measure up. I also don't want shady neighbors. One of the houses on the street where I live now is totally bringing the market down with her yard full of crappy decorations. Seriously: fake flowers in pots + dirty "flags" on little sticks are just the beginning in her yard.

I want a new house that doesn't need a ton of renovations. I'm willing, able, and experienced in things like painting or removing wallpaper. But my budget and lack of handyman skills lead me to seek a house where I can do small renovations over time. I don't want a new house where I have to rip out and replace the tubs and toilets just to be able to live there. (Yep: been there, seen that, left sadly.)

Doesn't seem like too much to ask, does it?

Monday, May 4, 2009

Time for a New List!

Looks like it only took me about half of my 25 songs/things list to get bored with it and start ignoring it. Oh well!

Now it's time for a new list! I'm revising my 73 goals list, and plan to start an entirely new list on my anticipated "finish" date on mid-October 2009. I have a feeling the current list may be a little bit of a work in progress, but that seems to be a theme for my life right now, so I'm going to go with it! I'll be working on the list a bit at a time, so I won't be changing all of it, or even all of it at once. Here's what I've got so far:

1. Go on a date.
I haven't been on a date with someone new since the end of 1997. At the very least, this item should yield an interesting story.

2. Invest for retirement beyond 401K.
I still hope to do this, although it will have to be a very small investment for a while.

3. Create a master list with all “in case of emergency” information (including vehicle & bank account info) to keep in safe.
I'm thinking about getting a safe deposit box, since my safe is small and easy to carry off.

4. Spend quality time with nephews at least once a month.
This item is going great, and I'm definitely planning to continue.

5. Finish wedding CD for M before April 08.
FAIL! I need to figure out if any of the participants are still wanting to do this. I have one hold-out who may never turn in her materials.

6. Finish baby M gift before Sept. 08.
FAIL! Since baby M is going to have a baby sister in the next week or so, I need to figure out if the other participants in this mind if I complete it a little differently than planned.

7. Buy cloth grocery sacks to eliminate plastic sack use.

8. Buy cute lunch bag (see above).

9. Cook dinner (and sides!) at least four times a month (0/22).
I stopped keeping track on my previous goal once I got behind, so I've scaled this back a bit to compensate for the fact that I'm not interested in doing a lot of cooking right now. But it's good to stay in practice, and hopefully make it a habit once I'm living on my own.

10. Organize all loose recipes.
Still want to do this.

11. Bake a loaf of bread or other goodie using yeast.
Still want to do this.

12. Revise 5 grill recipes for the stove top. (0/5)
Once I move, I won't have access to a grill. It's just not at the top of my "need to purchase" list. I am hoping some favorite recipes can be translated.

13. Meet with mortgage broker.
Done! My mortgage guy is awesome.

14. Put house on market in spring 2008.
Well, the house went on the market at the end of January, so I'm crossing this off my list.

15. Buy new home that I love.
A huge priority right now. I refuse to settle for just any house; I think it's important for me to find a place that I really like and won't regret buying. I made an offer on a house a couple of weeks ago that I ended up having to withdraw (potential structural issues with the roof), but I'm still looking all the time. Homes in my price range in my preferred areas are somewhat scarce, but if I find that I no longer can live where I do now, I have a back-up temporary living option that will be fine while I continue to look. In the meantime, I'm just wishing and hoping the right place gets listed soon!