October 29, 2014

When Life Happens: Building Our Home

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Let’s start by stating the obvious: I have been away…for a WHILE, a year or so. Holy crap, how time has flown. So what’s with the sudden drop off the face of the earth? Life.

Life happened. A lot of it. Last I left you, we were building a new house and had sold our old house. So let's talk about our journey to get into the new house, because getting you up to now would be an epic novel.

March 2013. After an exhausting number or conversations and FINALLY being properly insured (properly = not $900 a month and a lower deductible than $5000, so I guess properly = affordable), Tony and I decided it was a good time for a baby, if there is such a thing. We had been married 2 years, together 8 and were financially stable and as emotionally ready for a baby as you can be. So with little reluctance, we tossed the birth control and just went for it (I'll spare you the gory details).

June 2013. STILL not pregnant. The home-building industry was going BANANAS and Tony's company was growing fast, so we quickly decided to build a new house and sell our current house.

July 2013. We signed the paperwork and handed over a deposit check after selecting the best of the 3 lots. Excited and terrified, we just jumped. Within days of signing that paperwork, there was a Realtor sitting at my kitchen table, telling me how much he thought my house was worth, while I choked back big, fat, who-do-you-think-you-are-this-is-my-blood-sweat-and-tears-we-are-talking-about tears (not so successfully, I might add. Pretty sure our Realtor thought I was a basket-case.). We had one number in mind and he had another, much lower, number in mind, and so we listed in the middle. A few nights later,  I came home to a "For Sale" sign in my yard, five days after that, we had 5 offers and a closing date. Also, STILL trying, and STILL not pregnant.

August 2013.

We packed up all of our crap into 2 storage units. Believe me, not matter how nice you think your stuff is when it's in its proper place, it all looks like crap when it's crammed into a storage unit.

We said goodbye to our first home, the home we put so much work into, the home we lived in when we got married.

I am not a sentimental person, Tony will attest to this fact. I don't keep things around the house for sentimental reasons, I don't typically cry when I leave things behind because there is always the new thing that lies ahead. But the thing is, the new thing that was ahead was several months of the two of us and our two dogs invading my mother's house and the thing that I was looking forward to looked like this:

October 2013. All this time we have been trying to get pregnant and were unsuccessful. Apparently my body was just waiting until we were moving/living with my mom to really give in to the idea of procreation, because.....yep I was pregnant. I got a sinus infection and my first instinct is to medicate the crap out of myself and hide under the covers until illness passes, but I thought better of it and went ahead and peed on a stick. Sure enough, clear as day, TWO lines. So I rolled my eyes, said, "Of course" and soaked in the irony of it all. Later, when the reality of it finally arrived, so did the excitement. Excuse me while I show you my womb.

In other exciting news, the house was looking more like a house:

November 2013. Our baby is looking more like a baby!

All the exciting things are going up in the house. The cabinets, counters and the wood flooring is under that layer of paper on the floor.

The tile that took us FOREVER to decide on and ultimately choose all white (I'll wait while you pick your jaw up off the floor....):

 The brick, stone, siding and cedar:

December 2013.  The winter happened. 

I spent a lot of time willing the gas man to come out and install our gas meter so that we could finish our wood floors. need the heat to acclimate the floors so they can be scraped and stained, but the heat has to be on for a week so that can be done. For me, in December, a week was like an eternity. I don't know if you know this....Christmas is only 4 weeks into December...and I don't mess around with my Christmas tree. We were originally trying to scrape things together so we could be in by December 10, but that pile of ice on our front yard made that a no-go. It may be pretty in the picture and look like should have rented some ice skates...that is a 4" block of ice you are looking at on our driveway. People here in Texas don't have the resources to deal with everything shuts down until it melts, boooooooo!!! Tony got on the phone and begged and bargained and pulled his builder-y strings and we finally got some stuff moving. He even got out a shovel and scraped away a path so that the appliances could be delivered. I can't tell you how much he was my hero this month...more so than usual. 18-week pregnant me was pretty much a basket-case at this point. Then progress was made. We finally closed on the house on December 13th, 9 days before I had to host Christmas Eve dinner! 

We are so happy to be in our house and have no plans of moving any time soon. We love our home and we HATE moving!! There is still a lot more to catch everyone up on...but for now, the home-building portion has come to an end. All that's left to do from here is move in, decorate and grow a person until May. 

September 16, 2013

Go into the White..Awesome White Kitchens

Oh man..August was just a mess! And now here we are more than half into September and I'm just regaining my focus. We sold our house in July and moved out on August 20th - so there was nothing but packing and paperwork in our lives pretty much all of August. The good news is we finally closed on the old house on the 30th and we made all of our design decisions for the new house. Unfortunately the new house only looks like this:

But I wanted to share some of our inspiration for the decisions that we made on the new house. There are a ton of ways the money can get away from you and the Kitchen is where you seem to spend the VAST majority of the fundage...and that is indeed what we did as well. We are going all white..with a little bit of gray. It's going to be bright and clean and AWESOME...I can't wait!!

This is one of my favorites because the hood and backsplash situation are very similar to what we are going to have. We are bringing a little bit of contrast in between our whitish counter tops and white cabinets. photo 353f72fd01ca_zpsa0b18ea7.png
Decor Pad
An alternative to the gray subway that we are doing on our kitchen backsplash is picking up some contrast using gray grout. It really makes these tiles stand out. I will always love the classic subway look, but the quatrefoil tile in the next kitchen is definitely a cool look photo 052611-HHM-0669_final_SUP_HH_OC11_0_zpsc1266e54.jpg
House and Home photo RS_Anisa-Darnell-Kitchen-Island_s3x4_lg_zpsa2ff29af.jpg
The character in this next one is great. I love the striped island bench and the grey island (ahem - stay tuned...way tuned in...we are planning a trim-wrapped, painted island in the new house, but it might be a minute so bear with me). The schoolhouse pendants are my new favorite thing, I will find somewhere in the new house to hang them...just wait! photo kit1_zps7a6c7f8a.jpg
Impressive Interior Design
What I really like about this one is the simplicity and the stark contrasts. The dark furnishings and counter tops make the clean lines of the cabinetry look more dramatic. photo Kitchen20AyersCliff_zpsa01f6bbf.jpg
House and Home
These next few prove to me that an all white kitchen can still be cozy and warm. photo right-white-kitchen-l_zpsdcfe3e6a.jpg
Southern Living photo DP_Drury-Design-White-Cottage-Kitchen-3_s4x3_lg_zps14ff5e74.jpg
HGTV photo 100610-HHM-2318_SUP_HH_JY11_zps6e947573.jpg
House and Home
And then there are always those that you see and know that your set up will never be THAT nice, all there is to do is have a mini pity party (first world problems, I know!) and then say…”How do I do this with a 10th of the budget?” and move forward. These next three are those to me. I mean seriously with the Carrera marble and the coffered ceilings, the REALLY nice cabinets and light fixtures AND those windows…they’re just crazy awesome! photo RS_Cohen-and-Hacker-White-Kitchen_s3x4_lg_zps300d2ff6.jpg
I think this is a nice marriage of casual and classy. Not quite as over-the-top-awesome as the previous pictures that make me drool like a Saint Bernard, but it is still elegant. This is pretty much what we are going for in the new kitchen: casual elegance. photo item19renditionslideshowWideHorizontalwhite-kitchens-20_zpse829a0b2.jpg
Architectural Digest
While I realize the practicality of all white is lacking, I figure if I'm going to do any room in white, it should be the kitchen. It's all washable surfaces...we are staying away from white fabric for the time being. What are your thoughts, feelings, opinions on the all white kitchen? Does it leave you craving color, or are you with me, leave the color to the accessories? 

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August 1, 2013

August Playlist

It's that time again! Holy cow, July went by too fast! It has been a whirlwind at our house. Stay tuned for an update on selling our house (or just follow me on any social media outlet for little snippets). I have another crazy, jammy, eclectic  mix of indie rock for you on the August playlist this month. I'm a big fan of irony and not a fan at all of the August heat, so I hope you can make the connection in some of the songs I chose. I need music to get stuff done to, so here it is! ENJOY, and, as always, more songs will be added throughout this hot, sweaty month. I anticipate more angst as the month progresses - get ready.

July 18, 2013

Washi Tape Pencil Cup

When we were going through the house to stage it and make it look like nobody really lived there, I decided this black mesh-metal desk organizer was way too, "someone-lives-here-and-has-a-lot-of-crap."

I still needed to retain a little of the utility in my office, so I found some washi tape and a plastic pencil cup on clearance for $2 and did a super-quick makeover.

I got rid of the lid (and I'm a poet and didn't know it - not above 4th grade humor) and lined up the first row of tape just below the lip on the top of the container. After I worked my way around the first row, I made a cut and lined up the next row like wallpaper. I think I ended up with 5 rows or so. 

At the bottom, I just wrapped the tape around the bottom edge and called it a day!

Or I would have...but it still needed some more color. I grabbed a thinner Kelly green roll of washi tape to finish of the top edge of the container. 

BOOM! Only five minutes to awesome! Throw in some office supplies and NOW you can call it a day. Like I said, super quick, super easy. 

July 9, 2013

Making the Decision: New or Pre-Existing Home

I hope everyone had a wonderful and safe 4th of July weekend. Some big (scary) decisions were made over here at our house!  On Thursday, we headed over to a model home and floated the idea of building a new home, and therefor selling our current home. I know! Are you hyperventilating with me people!?

It's a decision that, right now, seems like it was made hastily, but we have been discussing it for years. It's always been one of those things that would be nice to do, but (in our minds) it would be a long way off for us. All this talk of economic climate and the housing market made us think that we would not be selling this house (that we essentially bought as an investment) any time soon. ESPECIALLY given that, a few short months ago, houses the same size were going for LESS than what we paid four years ago. Let's talk about how hard that pill was to swallow!! 

Then the market took a swift turn around the beginning of the year and people that Tony work with (in the housing industry) were basically saying, "If you don't put your house on the market RIGHT NOW, you're just stupid!" So, needless to say, the decision was upon us like a hard slap in the face. This is something we would have preferred to have more time to prepare for, but we always knew this was not the "forever" house, so I'm not really sure what I expected. 
In regard to buying new or pre-existing, there were a lot of considerations to make:

  1. We would have to put a contract on the new house under a contingency. That basically means that we would have to sell our house in 90 days so that we don't potentially loose the new house. Not only will the builder not sell us the new house while we are still paying a mortgage on another house (assuming we are not renting it out, which we are NOT), but we will most likely not even be able to get funding if we do not sell this house. NO PRESSURE!!
  2. We will have to move in with my mother during the gap between the sale of our home and the closing of the new home. Which means we will basically be moving twice and have to store all of our junk in a storage unit for a few months. 
  3. If we buy pre-existing, are we prepared to start all over with the renovations that are already done in our current house and would already be done in the new build?
  4. When you build a new house, you cannot lock in your interest rate until a maximum of 60 days before you close your house. Since this is "THE HOTTEST MARKET EVER!", are the interest rates going to skyrocket by the time we are able to lock in our interest rate (probably around early October)??
None of these things amount to the end of the world, but they are collaboratively SUPER stressful. As previously stated, this will be the last time we do this for a VERY long time.

Ultimately we decided to bite the big, scary bullet and go with the new build. Since the decision was made it has all snow-balled rather quickly. Thursday we held our lot, Friday we got pre-approved, Saturday we got the current house in order, Sunday we met with a Realtor to sell the current house and then we went and put a deposit down on the new house and Monday there was a big FOR SALE sign in our front yard. So when I say "snow-balled", what I actually need you to think of is that humongous boulder thing that comes barreling straight at Indiana Jones, just load up a hole with snakes and rock some dramatic music and you get the picture. 

These have been an emotional few days for both of us. We are so excited to get into a house that we expect to be in for AT LEAST a decade, but we are very sad to see our current house go. It was just terrible sitting across from the Realtor and hearing that all of the hard work that we have put into this house will not necessarily be reflected in our back account at the end of all this. That being said...we will be doing some SERIOUS saving for the next few months. This is going to be an amazing adventure and I look forward to sharing all of the awesomeness with you all!! Tell me at least ONE of you has been through this?? 

July 2, 2013

July Playlist

Hey all! Music is a big part of what inspires me and keeps me focused and motivated. I listen to Spotify all day at work to keep focused and then come home and listen more to get pumped. For those of you that are familiar with Spotify, move on and follow my playlist!! For those of you who are newbies, here is a quick idea of how it works:

Spotify is like Pandora in the sense that it has radio stations that are generated based on albums, artists, genres, etc, but Spotify gives you the ability to make playlists and other people can follow. WARNING: This feature is only free on your desktop/laptop. You have to pay $10 a month in order to have this feature on your mobile devices. You can also find your friends on Spotify to check out what they are listening to in real time (if you have friends that listen to the same type of music it really comes in handy because you can listen to what they are listening to, as they are listening to it...spooky and stalkerific...but neat). The playlists I compile will all be on Spotify. 

I listen to an eclectic mix that contains a mostly recent Indie and 80's New Wave, but also incorporates some folk, jazz, oldies. There are really only a couple of genres that aren't my bag. I think music is a great, SUBJECTIVE tool to evoke, or even get out of, a particular mood. My July playlist is filled with light, upbeat, summery tunes with a slight American undertone in honor of the 4th. It's perfect background noise for a summer barbecue or for summer crafting!! All you have to do is click the link above or picture below to follow my wacky playlist. I will continue to add on to it throughout the month so it will have more tracks....Happy July!!

Also, I'm always looking for new, funky bands to check out, so if you know of any that have a similar vibe that I just HAVE to check out, let me know and maybe you will see it on the list soon!! 

June 23, 2013

Cooking Class: Seafood 101

In an effort to both further our attempts at a healthy lifestyle and find something new to do as a couple, Tony and I signed up for a one night cooking class: Seafood 101. The class was held at one of our local markets called Central Market. If you're in Texas I recommend that you find your local location. We don't eat a lot of fish in the Musick house, not because we don't like it, but because I'm not super confident in my ability to select and cook GOOD seafood, especially where we live. We are pretty much land locked and only have close access to gulf seafood, so much of what is purchased here has to be frozen and flown in, but there are places that you can buy really great seafood, such as Central Market. So we figured if there was a place to learn about and find the good stuff, it was here. So let's dig right in...

The first thing that we did was take a tour of their seafood market to learn more about selecting appropriate seafood for a particular season or recipe. All of the fish in their market is labeled with the location it was caught, so we also learned which fish were best from particular regions of the world. We also got some insider tips on how their particular market worked in regards to the safety and maintenance of their fish.

There were a couple of things that I really loved about this class in particular: (1) We used a couple of kinds of fish that I never even eaten, let alone prepared. (2) We used a different preparation method for 5 different dishes, so there was really got a broad spectrum of ways that fish can be cooked.
When you select a class, you can elect a hands on approach or just a demonstration. We went hands on so we could get up close and personal with the fish. They have you chop, taste, mix, even handle the cooking.