Saturday, August 31, 2013

House Update: Finally!

It is hard to believe it, but we finally moved into the house.

A lot of things were intentionally delayed: we had a later closing date because we were going road tripping.  We didn't move in for practically two months so we could do our micro-renovations.  We dealt with rental people with draconian lease policies, mortgage people who delighted in making us jump through hoops (only to change their mind halfway throufh each jump), painters who truly screwed us over (while the finished product is gorgeous, it took 2 full weeks instead of 3 days, with the polyurethane scrapped off in a few spots on our hardwood floors.  The level of headache-inducing BS is enough to keep Bayer in business), and movers whose estimate lady screwed them over, bringing out two guys for a three man job (we bought the guys pizza and gatorade after because they showed some Herculean strength).

But it's all okay.  Every misstep was worth it.  Because now we are home.

We are currently without internet, and probably will be for the next few days.  I'll hopefully be posting some lovely before-and-after shoots of the interior, since a little color change goes a long way.

It really is hard to believe it.  I'm over the moon that all the pre-move prep work is done, but the job is definitely far from over.  We have only two weeks to get everything settled before we have our housewarming party.  Ideally we would get more time, but a temporary change in my husband's work schedule and the declining summer air is forcing our hand a bit, especially if we want to have a barbecue and use our fire pit.

But hey, I have done more with less time.  Challenge accepted!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Photo Friday: Estes Park, Pt 3

The final part in my Estes Park trip is finally here. We got to the highest point accessible by a continuously paved road in the US (gotta love all those variables). Capping off at 12,100 ft, it was the perfect way to finish up a wonderful day in such a beautiful place.

We had spent all our planning thinking about what we would do in Denver. Little did we know that our most memorable day in Colorado would be an hour out from Denver.

Monday, August 26, 2013

House and Life Update

Our movers are expected to come first thing this Friday.  Suffice it to say we have hit the ground running in terms of finalizing packing.  Furniture that can be disassembled has been disassembled. We've even started removing the pieces of our sectional. We are essentially living out of suitcases and looking at the kitchen fondly, knowing that we got at least a half week more before we can actually make a proper meal again.

If you follow my 365 Blog Project, you know that we've been having *cough* issues with our painters. It's been a Type A, perfectionist personality nightmare, but things are looking good. Bare minimum, it's a huge improvement over the original colors.

One huge positive in the painting situation is that the rooms we painted ourselves look great, and we were able to finish painting them in record time. A huge relief, as I thought I was going to have to juggle unpacking and painting and prepping for the house party all at the same time.

So, here is one craft-related update: the "Year in Review" Jar is going strong.  This has definitely been a year worth noting.  From the road trip to my essay being published, from finding a house and being able to close...

To getting signed to a new agency.  People who know me (even vaguely through Facebook) know that I model from time to time.  I started as a freshman in college, got signed somewhere around my third year ("middler year" for us Northeasterners), graduated, entered the real world, and let it slip to the sidelines.  Now that I'm in the proverbial "between jobs" phase, I decided to throw caution to the wind and submit my stuff to the top agency in Boston.  They had rejected me once before, so I expected very little.  Color me surprised when, an hour after submitting, I'm getting emails from owner of the agency, answering his questions and setting up a meeting.

This doesn't mean I now have it made,  given that Boston is a small market and I'm not industry standard.  But it's a step in the right direction and a welcomed change of pace.

It is going to be weird, leaving this apartment behind.  It has been nice, being so close to everything (practically every major store was within a two-mile radius), but I'm excited for the house and what the future might bring inside of it.

So the Summer of Change is coming to an end.  Nothing to do now but prepare for the move and unpack like mad once the movers have pulled away.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Photo Friday: Estes Park, Part 2

Is there really anything more to say about Estes Park? I'm honestly in love with this area. I think the only drawback to the road trip was that we were given all this beauty, all at once, and at an absurdly quick pace (given that three nights in Colorado was considered a serious stopping/resting point). But it gave us just enough of a taste to know what we want to go back and get more of (like Wyoming, but more on that later), and what we'll be fine never visiting again (like Nebraska. There is honest to God nothing in Nebraska).

The only regret is that our navigator didn't realize we would be going up this high, and therefore did not warn us about bringing layers. We had been to the top of Mt. Monadnock not even a month prior, and the weather at the summit was actually quite nice. Little did we know that we'd be facing tundra that is only also seen in Alaska. So we were braving the elements in t-shirts and shorts. Good thing I've spent enough winters in New England to deal with cold, biting wind!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

365 Blog Project

I know this blog is currently a place for house updates and photography (if only because my crafts supplies are still packed up and "organizing the crafts corner of the office" is so stupidly low on the priorities list). But there is one place where I'm constantly active: my 365 writing blog project.

The idea is that, if you are forced to write a blog post -- and a decent one, not just a quick rundown of the day -- every single day, you'll find a greater freedom in your writing. And since I'm in the middle of my third manuscript (a manuscript that I just have a good feeling about), I want to kick my mind into gear.

My goal? A blog entry a day for an entire year. No matter what is going on, I need to write something. Every, single, day.

I started it about three or so weeks ago and, so far, so good. I've made it a routine to make a blog post every morning while I have my coffee (even if I have to burst out the door not even minutes later). The beauty of a project like this is that I feel like I can write about anything. Because, hey, if it's a boring topic, there will be a brand new one tomorrow.

So don't hesitate to check it out, and maybe start a 365 blog of your own. I know 365 Projects are primarily for photographers, but writers can get in on the fun, too. Do you have a writing blog? Or any other 365 project? Post it in the comments below. I love seeing what others have been writing about!

Monday, August 19, 2013

House Update

I'm happy to say that the Lemon-Lime Sprite Room and the "Room of the Reflective Neon Yellow" are both good and primed.  We are painting these rooms ourselves to save money (especially since we are hemorrhaging money to pay for the exterminator, movers, painters for the first floor, and simultaneous rent/mortgage payments) and I put priming those two rooms at the top of my priorities list.  We probably won't actually paint them until after the professional painters are gone, but it feels good to have those rooms somewhat neutral now.  As I said ad nauseum, the colors were offensively bad.

Which worked out in our favor: I think the house was on the market for as long as it was (and for the price that it was) because people were turned off by the kids' bedrooms.  Especially when you think about all the little things home-sellers are supposed to do to entice buyers (remove all family pictures, paint the interior 50 shades of beige, etc).

The exterminator has already done his work (and God help me of I see another spider or carpenter ant).  The professional painters are already hard at work today painting (and will continue until Wednesday).  And the movers will come for our furniture on the 30th (because heaven knows we cannot move things like our sectional on our own).

Hopefully the (whatever meager) DIY posts I have scheduled will keep this blog going, even as I continue to run around like a chicken with her head cut off.  More updates (including general life updates) to be coming soon!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Photo Friday: Bunker Hill Graduation…Kind of

Let's take a break from Colorado, shall we, and focus on something far more grand: community college graduation.

My little brother graduated from Bunker Hill Community College last June before continuing on at UMass Boston. I might joke about community college (and watch shows that make fun of community college, like, say, Community), but, in this day and age, community college just don't have the stigma that it used to have. When private, four-year institutions are running bills as high as $250,000 for four years, it makes a lot of sense to find more economic alternatives. In fact, this is where I went after graduating from Northeastern, when I needed education classes in order to get certified.

But, back to the photos, I ended up taking more photos of the area around Bunker Hill than the actual ceremony. But hey, what's more interesting: a rusted overpass, or some lady chatting? I thought so.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

How to Use a Dress Pattern if You've Never Used Patterns Before

Aka My First Try with a Dress Pattern

It's no secret that I've been trying to up the ante with my sewing skills. I've been turning tank tops into dresses and t-shirts into tank tops. Sometimes I walk into Joanne Fabrics and pick out a fabric that strikes my fancy, hoping that I'll get the inspiration to make something.

My mom was an avid sewer when she was younger, and loved making dresses from patterns. I tend to view patterns as a relic of yesteryear. However, I haven't been able to make anything all that intricate, so I decided, "Hey, why not?"

This particular gem was only $6 on the Simplicity website, so I figured I had nothing to lose. I decided to try the third pattern (sans sash and polka dots).

Incidentally enough, I was able to use fabric that I had previous bought on whim (and Salem was able to pounce the ever-loving shit out of the fabric).

Patterns are fairly cut-and-dry. Cut out the pattern pieces in according to your size. Each shape has a particular dotted line for cutting. The key here, however, is measuring each major horizontal section of your body (bust, waist, hips) and see how it matches up. Anyone who is has a more *erm* extreme body type knows how this is. For example: according to the size chart, I'm a size 6 waist, size 8 hips, and size 10 chest.

(So that's why clothing never fits me right).

After cutting the pieces out, pin the paper to the fabric and cut around the fabric.

This part is tedious, but necessarily. See all those notches, lines, etc, on your pattern paper? Copy all that down onto the fabric. These notches, circles, etc, will let you know where to sew certain items or how to fold a part of the fabric.

You don't have to do this all at once: simply copy the marks on the pieces as you are sewing them together. Like I've mentioned ad nauseum, I have no fancy "seamstress chalk", so I just used damp chalkboard chalk.

Nothing made me happier than finally seeing the pieces come together. It was hard, trusting the pattern completely, but I'm glad I did. I never would've created something like this by ear.

It took me an hour to figure out what this part of the pictorial instructions was trying to tell me. Hey, sewing pattern instruction? Bugger off.

I'm really happy I decided to do this. I learned a lot about what goes into making a dress. I also learned a few tricks, like how to make straps (and how to sew them onto a dress). My hemming still needs some work, but, eh, details.

It's good to know that, if I get kidnapped and transported to the Amish community, I'll at least be able to make my own clothes!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

House Update

The moving process is (more or less) underway. We have our apartment lease until the middle of November (and we'd lose even more money if we tried breaking the lease), so we've been taking it fairly slow. Which has been nice. We've been able to work on the house and spend time inside without any furniture. It's given us a good feel for where we want everything to be, as well as what types of furniture we want to be on the lookout for.

We originally decided to hire movers, but bring up the breakables ourselves. However, with all the work that we have been doing on the house (from running cables to choosing paint colors to taking care of the chickens. Oh, I didn't mention we got chickens in the deal? The house came with a three-chicken coop and the previous owner gave us the chickens, as their new place does not allow coops to be built on the property) we've been going up to the house 4 to 5 times a week.

We first thought that we'd make use of the (whatever meager) storage space our coupe has and bring up the breakables slowly but surely, imagining that we'd eventually have to rent a Uhaul truck for the rest of them. Turns out the coupe can hold more than we originally thought (especially when I'm driving up by myself). By the end of the week, we had already transferred over every breakable box.

So "only moving the breakables" turned into "moving over whatever would fit into the coupe". As we see it, given the cost of movers, anything we can easily move ourselves should be moved ourselves. And the big things, like our couch or our bed or our TV, can be left for the movers.

Everything is currently being kept in the basement, partially because we don't want it in the mover's way, partially because we plan on repainting practically the entire house. We've already picked out the colors and found our painter. Now it's only a matter of finishing up the home improvement projects and nailing down the dates with the painters.

Speaking of home improvement projects, we have been running cables through the house. This involves a lot of cutting walls, drilling into planks, and a lot of drives to Home Depot for various supplies. We've been at the house every weekend and evening and, after over 3 weeks of work, we've finally finished up this project.

With any luck, we'll be fully moved into the house by September (just in time for my birthday). And thus will begin the process of unpacking, decorating…and making mortgage payments. But hey, at least it's money that is going toward an investment, instead of going to the leasing office with little to show for it.
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