Posted in Home DIY, Life + Living

First Time Home Buying Experience

My last post was made before we closed on the house–I’m sorry to have been away for so long!! The month of October absolutely flew by.  We are only just now starting to really feel settled into our home.  The closing went really smoothly.  I took half a day off of work and met up with Jeff and our Realtor at the office where our closing was being hosted.  We met the previous owners who seemed like really kind people.  The woman was dismayed to find out that I didn’t like pugs as well as she does, and the man let us know that the electrical update was just a partial update.  The signing of the paperwork flew by–it took less than an hour to go over everything and then we were presented with our very own keys!  Just like that we were home-owners.

We knew going into it that there would be some things to fix around the house, and, being first time home-buyers meant that we didn’t have any of the essentials that we would need to take care of the property.  Off we went to the housing store to get the essentials.  Mom and Keith picked up a new lock set for us, and we picked up rakes, shovels, ice picks, a furnace filter, broom, push broom, dryer vent cleaning kit, extension cords, paint, rollers, edgers, etc.  Over the next few weeks we’d make so many more trips to the hardware store.  We had to buy joint compound and mesh tape, hammers, scrapers, chisels, wrenches, dryer vent kits (x2, one of the expandable semi-rigid metal, and another of straight pipe style aluminum).  Just when we thought we could afford it, we splurged in a snow blower and a couple of leaf blowers… half an acre isn’t going to take care of itself.

Then we moved in.  We had a ton of help and really appreciated all of our family and friends who came out to support us.  Our driveways were full of the cars from all of the volunteers.  Shout outs go to Eli, Nickola, Wes, Gloria, Mike, Mom, Keith, and Michael.  Steph had to work, but sent good vibes anyway 😀  And to our long distance friends who totally would’ve schlepped boxes on our behalf: Corine, Lori, Ross, Ray, Anne, et al. Thank you so much for sending us your happy vibes.

The first week, things started falling apart.  First, it was the water main.  The seller’s disclosure said that they had to snake the main every other year for roots… so, I don’t know why, but I expected to be able to wait to do that until next year.  Nope.  We had water in our basement on day one.  On Day 2, we went to clean the dryer vent only to find it so stuffed with lint that it really was better to replace it–and luckily we found it because it was burned through on the back.  On Day 3, I had a technician out for our stove which was irreparable, and the home warranty company decided not to cover it.  I blew up at my Realtor for misleading us, and she helped us to get a new one.  Since I was home, we also had the internet service provider out–who found wires to be chewed through and that’s outside of his scope.  When it finally came time to install the replacement stove, I ended up coiling the gas line in on itself because I was a schmuck who didn’t know that you had to use two wrenches.  Then we had to buy a new service door because we couldn’t get the new lock set to fit on the old one, which had been rigged.  Needless to say, being home-owners was stressful!

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We got all of those issues taken care of (thanks go to my very flexible employer for allowing me to work from home while figuring this crap out).  That brings us to today.  I am working from home because I have (yet another) contractor coming out to take a look at issues that we’re having with this house.  When the stove was replaced, it was discovered that the floor was sinking underneath it.  This rang alarm bells quite loudly in my head and I told Jeff that we need to prioritize the fix immediately.  We knew that there were structural issues with this house, but we didn’t appreciate just how extensive or expensive they would be.  The home inspection said that there were “missing or insufficient” supports in our basement, but that we probably wouldn’t have to repair it immediately.  The logic was that the house has stood this long, it’s not likely to just fall down tomorrow.  The previous owners had lived here for 28 years, and so we listened and thought that we’d eventually fix the structure, but we’d save up for it first.  Seeing the floor bowing under the weight of the old stove frightened me, though–what if the new stove falls right through?? And with it being a gas stove, that could cause an explosion on top of it! (I have a really active imagination…)

We brought in a structural engineer to take a look at the place, and he made a lot of recommendations.  He even made some thinly veiled suggestions that were outside of his paid scope on things we need to seriously consider for the future as well.  I’d say it was worth every penny paid to be able to talk to someone who knew what we would be in for.

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Here is one of the photos that was included in the engineer’s report for us.  It shows the I-beam (with surface rust), a 6×6 support beam that has been cut to make room for the duct work, and the (empty) masonry pocket that the beam should be sitting in.  This is all right below where my stove sits.  What adds to the crisis is the fact that there is another 4×4 post that supports a whole corner of my house that has recently been discovered to be splintering at the bottom.  And splitting in the middle.  And there are two other steel shores that are missing from this set-up.

Now, the United States is a very litigious society.  In fact, when Jeff originally moved here, his Canadian insurance provider advised him to seek greater than $1M in coverage in case someone sues him.  It’s well documented that our first instinct is to sue.  So when these issues became revealed to us, I started plotting my court case.  I called the city to get a history of permits pulled on this property, I called my Realtor to explain the situation that we’re now in, I studied both the seller’s disclosure and the inspection report to find problems.  I found that the sellers indicated that the structure to this house had *not* been changed.

So here I was, all rarin to go.  I was worked into a tissy and determined that the sellers were going to help us shoulder this burden, come hell or high water.  And then Jeff piped up.  Are we blind? (no.) Stupid? (no.) Naive? (well…)  He didn’t ask all of these questions to make his point, but he essentially said that we knew that this house had issues coming into it and that it’s our problem now.  We noticed ourselves that there were missing supports, I noticed myself that the beam was cut when we were doing the walk through.  Just because we didn’t appreciate how much it was going to cost at the time doesn’t mean that it’s not our fault for buying this house when we knew it had issues.  He is of the opinion, and I am in agreement with him, that we bought this house with eyes wide open.  We should have done our research before signing on the dotted line, and now it is our responsibility to make sure that it’s done right.  To take responsibility for these repairs is not to let the previous owners “walk all over us,” as I had argued, it is merely to own our mistakes and acknowledge that we made the decision to move in here.  We’re not stupid, we’re not blind, and we’re not incapable of research, and so there’s no reason for us to try to pin this issue on the sellers when we were aware of it before moving in.

This, dear reader, is where I’ve been all month.  I’ve been moving in and cleaning, but mostly fixing our new home.  The issues have made me just a tiny bit bitter about the experience, but I am trying to take it for what it is:  experience.  This is still a lovely home and it will be a great home for many years once we get these issues out of the way.  I love the peace and sophistication of my dining room.  I enjoyed taking our outdated bathroom and making it our own.  The rooms echo with our laughter already and the cats have really settled in–running amok all over the place as often as they like.

If I had a piece of advice to offer a 1st time home buyer (or any home buyer for that matter), it would be this:  Get an inspection report and pay close attention to it.  If there is no cost for remediation, or if it’s out of the scope of your inspector, take the time to look online (at the very least!) or call around to get an idea of how much a repair is going to cost.  It was $168 to have our drains cleared.  $120 to have our stove looked at.  $1000 to have it replaced.  It would’ve been $300 to have it installed if I hadn’t taken on that project.  I’m getting bids on it, but it’s going to be close to, if not upwards of $10,000 to have the structural issues fixed… and that doesn’t even begin to cover the electrical or the plumbing.  Will it be worth it?  Emotionally, sure!  It’s a great house that we can really make ours.  Financially?  Who knows.  These are issues that should’ve never been a problem in the first place, so I can’t say that we’ll see a return on our investment.  What I *can* say, though, is that fixing these issues will make sure that they don’t count against us if we ever go to sell this house, and having these issues fixed will make us that much more comfortable while we’re living here.

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Posted in Crafty, Fitness, Gaming, Home DIY, Life + Living, Strength Training

Sh-Boom! Life Could Be a Dream

 

The title is inspired by the track that is playing in the background as I write this post.  I am such a lucky person.  Gainfully employed, completing my degree, happily in love and married, and about to buy my own home…. what’s not to love?  Life really could be a dream.

This morning when I came to work, my mom was approaching my desk with a gift for me:  It’s a binder with copies of execises that she’s collected from her experience at the gym.  There are BOSU workouts, bootcamp style interval workouts, etc.  And on the cover: a Post-it note that says “Because you are loved!!”

I told Mom how I’m getting back into fitness and ready to really hit it hard, and this is her way to encourage me.  🙂 I definitely have the warm fuzzies at this point.

Yesterday, I signed up for The Academy with Nerd Fitness:

 

The premise seems to be that it will guide me back into the fitness lifestyle by enticing me with the opportunity to level up my real life person instead of a digital character.  It plays like an RPG, except you get experience by doing things in real life.  The quest lines that you see there (General, Academy, Warrior, etc.) correlate to the type of training that you want to be doing.  I want to get started with the basics, so I’ll pursue the general quests first, then progress to The Academy and eventually start tackling some of the Ranger class quests.

I got 25 exp points for taking my ‘before’ photos, and I’ll get 25 more for taking my measurements.  The general quests start with small, easily accomplished goals and then work up to more challenging ones.  It’s just the inspiration that I need to get going without diving into the deep end and getting injured again.

We move in 2 weeks (if I’m lucky) and I have been dreaming about setting up a basement gym.  I’ve got images of rubberized flooring, inspirational posters, and blaring music dancing in my head.  Jeff wants to burst my bubble by reminding me that we have low ceilings, but then I remember that I’m short and go back to dreaming 😉

Can I have it? Pretty please?

So that’s what we’re up to 🙂 I’ll be sure to keep you posted.  Stay classy!

Posted in Challenge, Crafty, Home DIY, Life + Living

We’re Moving!

 

wpid-imag1234.jpgWe found this lovely home within our budget… We had gone back and forth a couple times about actually buying it because there’s quite a bit of work that needs to be done in the house.  We had actually rescinded our offer to purchase the home, except the sellers altered the terms of the purchase and we came around.  This gives us so much to actually be excited about…  I know where we’re going to put our Christmas tree, and how I’d like to arrange the dining room.  I can picture what our guest bedroom is going to look like, and I’m pinning up so many ideas for what to do with the unfinished basement.

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The real deciding factor was when we got our parents to do a walk-through of the house to get a feel for whether the problems that it has are insurmountable or not.  After seeing everything in person–including the pug room, and the spray-painted spare bedroom…

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They said that they didn’t see anything that tells them to actually walk away from the house.  I think that the males in the family were impressed with the 30′ x 30′ garage, and I think that no one could really pass up the half-acre yard that’s already fenced in for pupper-duppers:

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Even though we went back and forth a few times, we’re still trying to keep the same closing-date as before… so here’s hoping that we’ll be able to move the weekend of 9/27.  It’s going to be a flurry of packing and cleaning until then, and sadly, I have to revert the kitchen back to the brown/yellow/red mess that it was when we first moved in.  There was a term in the contract that said no contact paper, but apparently the office staff didn’t read it any closer than I did.  Thankfully, they’ll let me just remove it instead of keeping my security deposit..

Kitchen

Posted in Gaming, Life + Living

Step by step guide to building a standing station

Last year, I posted a very high level overview about building an Ikea standing station conversion. This year, I’m showing you:

1: Read this guide
2: go to Ikea

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3: Daydream about making some of the rooms yours:

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4: Find and purchase the following:
~Lack side table (21×21″)
~Antonius shelf (31×11″)
~brackets of your choice

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5. Gather your materials.  You will need

– side table
– shelf
– brackets
– power drill with 1/16″ bit and Phillips had screw driver bit
– screws of appropriate dimensions.( I raided our junk drawer to find some. You want at least two that are just under 1/2″, and about four more that are about 1″)
– a pencil
– a buddy

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6. Assemble the table according to the included instructions (recruiting a buddy helps save fatigue in your forearms)

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7. Figure out where you want your keyboard to be by putting the table on your existing desk. Bend your elbows to mimic typing comfortably at a keyboard (usually around 90°) and mark off this height discretely with a pencil on the inside of the table leg.

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8. Measure and mark the holes for the brackets on the bottom of the shelf

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I couldn’t find my measuring tape, so I just eyeballed it.
9. Drill a shallow pilot hole for each of the screws using a 1/16″ bit. Only go deep enough to get through the veneer

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10. Line the brackets up as planned, then screw them down. Your screw should just fit:

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11. Referencing your pencil marks from step 7, mark where you’ll be attaching the other side of the bracket to the table

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12. Drill pilot holes *just* through the veneer, and use the smallest bit (1/16″ is what I used).  Get your buddy to brace the table so it doesn’t fall over on you. He or she can hang out and lend some leverage through the next steps.

13. Mount the shelf to the table using 1″ screws.

14. Place standing station conversion on your existing desk, move your monitor, keyboard, and mouse as needed and Ta da: standing station

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* if you use too big of a bit, drill too far, or use screws that are too short, you might experience the painful conclusion of your shelf falling off when you place your table upright

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Don’t worry, if plan “A” fails, there are 25 more letters in the alphabet. Plan “B” for me was to spin the table around and correct for my mistakes. The damaged part faces the wall anyway, so no one will see.

My trip to Ikea included the parts shown above, crafting beads, and lint roller refills. My bill came to $33.  The table itself should be around $7-9, the shelf around $6-7, and the brackets around $6-7.  Not a bad deal for $20!

I talked to someone there who had already made his version and he was helping a friend build one. This was #2 for me. Are you going to tackle it? Comment below with your thoughts.

Posted in Uncategorized

Oh! Hi, there. (Ohaithere!)

It wasn’t until I saw that my previous post was entitled “Enter, enter, the first of November” that I realized how long it’s actually been since I’ve blogged.  “Busy” doesn’t begin  to describe it.

One thing I’ve been busy with recently is getting the apartment ready for Christmas 🙂

I’ve got a load of dishes in the washer right now, and once I’m done blogging, I’m prepared to go make cookies for a couple of hours.  In the mean time, though, here are some pictures of the Christmas festivities around our place:

Caribou and Tim Horton's Coffee Ornaments
We love our coffee enough to hang our love on a tree. Caribou when we’re in the states and Tim Horton’s when we’re not 🙂
Detail of our Tree
Detail of our Tree
Our tree, 2013
Our tree, 2013
Tim Horton's Ornament
Snowman with his extra large double double
Caribou Coffee cup ornament
Large chai latte with a shot of cinnamon and a shot of espresso. yum.
German Shepard Angel Ornament
In memory of Damon
Nicolin Mansion Ornament
We stayed at the Nicolin Mansion for our Honeymoon ❤
We toured the Coors brewery with Lori and Ross when we went to visit them :)
We toured the Coors brewery with Lori and Ross when we went to visit them 🙂
Initial "P" Ornament
Monogrammed ornament 🙂 It was originally to celebrate Jeff’s first Christmas in the states, but now his initial is mine too! (Our 1st Christmas as a married couple, awe)
English Bulldog ornament
In memory of Otis, our duh-dog who was half pit, half bull, all awesome.
Angel dog ornament
In memory of Dutch, my favorite Rottie.
Snapfish Snowflake Photo Ornament
I love the photo ornaments we have on our tree. Get ’em at Snapfish.com
Angel
Our tree is topped by a serene angel this year. Her head is just shy of our ceiling.
paper snow flakes on a glass door
The paper ones preceded the real ones
Candycanes in the snow
Candycanes in the snow
View from the balcony
View from the balcony
Skinny Santa figurine
Skinny Santa
Bowl of Balls w/ Bow (Red Glitter)
Bowl of Balls w/ Bow
Bowl of Balls 2 (blue glitter)
Bowl of Balls 2
Posted in Wedding Planning

I’m a Mrs!

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Jeff and I got married last weekend!! Today was my first day back at work and it was really really weird to get back into the routine while having people refer to me as “Mrs. [Jeff’s last name]”  That is going to take some getting used to!!

The week really started last Tuesday when my best friend, Corine, came to town from Michigan.  She was the first to arrive and Jeff actually brought her to work so I could get hugs as soon as possible 🙂

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Unfortunately, she was plagued with allergies and feeling like crud the first few days, so things were pretty low key.  We spent a lot of time hanging out, playing games, watching Netflix, and working on wedding favors.  That’s one of the great things about Corine – we can just hang.  We don’t need to really be DOING anything to have a good time.

The rehearsal dinner was held at Grandma’s house and it was a really just.. super wet weekend.  It was raining off and on a majority of the time which was a real bummer.  We easily fit into my grandma’s house, though, so it was alright.  I spent the night chatting with our officiant and visiting with my aunt and my niece.  Jeff spent time with the guys and mingled with everyone else who was there.

We had the best groomsmen gifts 🙂  Jeff found these awesome pocket watches that have all of the mechanics exposed from both sides when you open them up.  He had the front engraved with each guy’s name and he had the back engraved with something personal for each guy.

For the ladies, I bought earrings that I thought reflected each woman’s taste.  I got engraved necklaces for my friends that had a quote about the value of friendship, and for my sister, I got her something more personal.  It turned pretty entertaining on the day of the wedding because the necklaces were in the shape of hearts, except, Stephanie’s kept turning upside down.  “Well, sometimes my heart is a butt.”  Hahaha.. Love her.

976621_4780263865998_262577785_oSaturday was a day of primping and prepping for the wedding.  Legs were shaved, eyebrows waxed, nails manicured, and feet pedicured.  My MOH/Sister was so awesome–she had the salon open a little early and reserved all the chairs for our wedding party.  Here, my niece is in the foreground getting her nails all done up. Steph is beside her in blue, then in the back row (getting pedicures) are Gloria, Mom, Me, Lori, Bridget (My sister), and Grandma.  After the salon treatment, mom and Bridget went to the tasting for her own wedding (coming up in September) and the rest of us met up with the guys for a movie.

If you haven’t seen Star Trek: Into Darkness, then you’re definitely missing out.  I had a few *wolf whistle* moments during that movie, especially for Benedict Cumberbatch 😉

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Not pictured: My sister, Bridget, and Jeff’s brother, Rob

Saturday night was when the bachelor/ette parties were hosted.  I hear Jeff had a grand old time gallivanting from the casino, to the strip club, to the hotel.  The guys did a great job showing him a good time, lol… I heard rumors of gummy-boobs stuck all over the hotel to a blow-up doll stuck in his bed.  Hahaha…

Us ladies were more refined… we had a Pure Romance party at the apartment and watched Pitch Perfect.

Sunday was the big day, but I want to wait to do a recap of that until I have more photos 🙂 Be patient!! It’ll be worth it.

 

 

Posted in Counseling

Nope, still in a slump

“Settle down it’ll all be clear. Don’t pay no mind to the demons they fill you with fear. Trouble it might drag you down, if you get lost you can always be found. Just know you’re not alone, ’cause I’m gonna make this place your home…”

I’m working on it. ❤