Monday, July 30, 2012

I'm Back!

Alright, so I'm back after taking an impromptu week off from blogging. When last I posted I had decided to go ahead and make our house hunting endeavor public. This past week has been incredibly busy running around meeting with our realtor, making calls to lenders, etc. So now I'm updating everyone on that process.

The long and the short of it is that we didn't get it.

It needed a lot of work. Possibly $20k worth of work. It would have required a renovation loan. We offered low enough that we would be able to afford the house with the renovation costs on top of that, but they weren't willing to go as low as we wanted. It's not a terribly big surprise considering the house hasn't been on the market very long. Our realtor equated it to a honeymoon phase. Basically the bank just put it on the market a short while ago and isn't going to take the first low ball offer that comes along because they still think they can probably get something better. We don't think they will. Our realtor agreed.

Our plan of action right now is to watch it and wait. If someone else snags it than that's okay and it wasn't meant to be. If thirty days go by and it's still there we'll try again, assuming it holds up well while being vacant for another month.

Regardless of what happens this has been an incredible learning experience. I'm the kind of person who looks at the idea of buying a house and thinks "I should research that process" but until I have pressure on me to get it done I probably won't. Finding this house forced us to actually go through the whole process, to also take a hard look at our finances and see how much we can actually afford and what kind of sacrifices we can make in order to afford more. Maybe this isn't the house for us, but when our house does come along we'll be ready. We'll know exactly how much house we can afford. We'll have saved more. We'll know who to go to for a loan. We'll know which grants to apply for.

Part of me is disappointed, sure, but I think I'm mostly thankful for the experience. I know God's going to bring the right house along. And I know that when he does, he'll provide a way for us to be able to buy it. In the meantime we're going to focus on being ready for when that time comes.

Have you experienced the frustration of house hunting? Or did everything work out really well? Ever have a door you really wanted open slammed in your face?

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Biggest Project Yet!

Alright, so here's another Friday passing without a finished project to post. I promise I have a good excuse.

First of all I will say that while I'm not posting a finished project it doesn't mean I didn't work on anything this week. If I had worked on the whiskey stones or pallet art that I had already started I might have finished, but I got excited about something else and switched projects. Sorry. Even that one is coming along slowly because of something much bigger.

The biggest reason I don't have a project to post is because I'm working on something much larger. My wife and I have been casually watching the realty market for a while now, but we recently saw a house that looks promising enough to try to make a move on it. It's a cute little yellow cape cod.

It definitely needs work, but it's adorable! It's a decent size, and it's pretty cheap. It has this white fence around the front yard and an apple tree and dogwood tree! There are rose bushes. We like the floor plan. It's got a big den with a fireplace. There's a pool in the backyard, but we would probably just fill that in. A yard is more important than a money pit.

So, who knows, this might not be the house we end up in, but right now we're hoping it is and it's got us running around right now learning about mortgage loans, APR, settlement worksheets, etc.

Pray for us, wish us luck, partly that we get it, partly that we don't go crazy trying.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Small Update

I read fairly slowly. Partly because I don't read as much as I used to and thus I'm slightly out of practice. Partly because I don't have copious amounts of time for just reading. Partly because when I get a book that I enjoy I like to soak it up and really get the most enjoyment out of it instead of skimming through it as fast as possible.

With Ender's Game it's definitely more of the latter. I am enjoying this book so much. The further I get the more I am in love with Ender's character. The further I get the more nervous I am for the movie's handling of him. I'm always nervous about child actors. They're often so flat. Ender is so rich. So deep. I love the way he thinks. Part of me wants to draw similarities between him and myself. Most of that is probably quite a stretch; one of those "I like the idea of this character so much that I'm going to imagine I'm kind of like him". Almost a reverse Mary Sue if you will. Regardless, I'm a little less than halfway through and I would definitely recommend this book as a good read.

I haven't had a whole lot of time to put into blogging or crafting lately. Work has been kind of crazy, and I've had some big things that have required a lot of attention. I have quite a few things in the works and hopefully I'll be able to get back to them soon. I want to start not only posting a lot more things but possibly even offer some of them for sale. *crosses fingers in hope that this takes off* We'll see how that one goes though...

Monday, July 16, 2012

Yard Sale!

We had a yard sale this past week! Alas, I didn't take any pictures. It was a fun time though. We decided to have it at my parent's house since they're in an area that sees much more traffic and is more central for yard sale goers. We started hauling things over on Wednesday and finished Saturday morning. We've acquired a lot of stuff over the years, especially the last few. We had so much stuff that we kept forgetting to bring things out. After the yard sale we opened my wife's trunk and realized we hadn't even unloaded it from the last trip. Not only did we have a lot of our stuff but we had a lot of stuff from my wife's family's basement. Since we're cleaning it out in preparation of finishing it we've been going through a lot of stuff down there and getting rid of stuff they don't want anymore.

We almost got rained out early on, but thankfully it held off until about 11:30... at which point it poured. We had to run around in the rain grabbing everything and putting it on the porch. After the downpour stopped we got together everything we didn't still feel like trying to sell and took it to the Goodwill. It filled the back of my dad's Cherokee and completely filled my wife's car.

I'm pretty sure weird encounter stories are a prerequisite for yard sales and ours was no different. We had one lady who showed up completely stoned. She was touching and feeling things and talking about how great they felt. She was having trouble forming sentences. In the end I tossed something in for free because she seemed to enjoy how it felt sooooo much.

I also had a guy look around and ask us if we had a wolf. Apparently he had gone to a yard sale last year where the owner had a wolf as a pet, and the house and yard were so similar to my parent's that it made him question his memory of where that house had been.

Aaaand then there were the hagglers. There were these two African women who were not only haggling for everything they bought, but also trying to get us to throw stuff in for free.

Despite the rain and the vast quantity of things we had left over, we still turned a decent profit, and best of all, got rid of tons of stuff. Seriously, I feel like our lives have been more enriched from the offloading of things we didn't need than from the slight increase of money. Not only that but the basement looks so much better now. It actually looks like there's hope of getting it cleaned up and finished now. YAY!

What did you guys do with your weekend? Do you have any fun yard sale stories?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Things to Come

So I'm a little disappointed because I don't have a finished project for you today. I've been working on a project for a couple weeks but it's taking a lot longer than I originally thought it would. Since I don't have a finished project today I thought I would post pictures of some works in progress.

The first thing is the project I'm currently working on. Have you ever heard of whiskey stones? They're rock cubes that you chill and use as ice. Since they don't melt they don't water down your, uh, beverage. I heard of them a while back and thought they were really cool, but didn't think much else of it. Not too long ago I acquired a bunch of stone samples, so I decided to try and make whiskey stones!

The ones in the background are the cubes that I've cut the larger pieces into. The ones in the foreground are smoothed out and mostly done. I still want to work to get them more even and then I have some polishing to do. I've been doing everything with my dremel so it's slow going.

Another thing I'm working on is something my wife saw and thought was cool. She saw a piece of artwork that someone had made by painting a pallet and then hanging it on a wall. So we were inspired to make a similar piece. Most of the pallets I've seen look terrible so I thought I would build something but then I found this:

I don't think I've ever seen such a perfect pallet before.

When I finish the stones I'll put the whole process on here. I'm not sure what we're painting on the pallet yet, but whenever we do I'll put that on here as well. If you want to see some other projects that I have finished but that haven't made it on to my blog check out my Instructables.

Do you have any of those projects that you just don't seem to ever be able to finish?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Ender's Game

Yesterday was crazy busy and I ended up not being able to finish my post. Sorry. :( Here it is though!

The week before last I talked about a book I was starting called Barnaby Grimes: Return of the Emerald Skull. As it turns out the target audience was a little younger than I had first realized, but it was still enjoyable. It was interesting because it was kind of a "thriller/horror" for young people, so it was somewhat creepy. Had I been the age it was intended for it would have been pretty intense. As it is, I've already seen Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, which is kind of the adult version of this book.

So, now that I've finished I can move onto the next book. I had a book waiting but I've decided to bump it back and read Ender's Game. That's right. I have never read Ender's Game. I don't know how a huge Sci-Fi fan like myself has gotten this far in life without reading it, but I've decided it's past time and needs to be done.

Ooooo it's the Author's Definitive Edition
Part of my decision to finally read it is based on it basically being required reading in the sci-fi world, while the other part is preparation for next year's scheduled movie version of the classic. I guess I won't ever have the fondness for the book that long time fans have, but I want to have an opinion already in place when the movie comes out. With some movies I don't feel it's always necessary to read the book. I've seen lots of movies that were originally books and never read the book, but in this instance I feel like it's more important. I want to like this story. I want to see what people see in it. I don't want my first impression of the story to be a poorly done movie. Or a story that's not as deep. Or a movie where the depth of emotion that might be present in the book is left unreached.

Don't get me wrong. I want the movie to be good. I like things I've heard about it. I'm excited about the people involved in it. Check out the Internet Movie Database page. It's got Han Solo, er, Harrison Ford. Oddly enough it also has Han Soto. That's right. Harrison Ford is acting in a movie with Han Soto. Anyway, my point being I don't want to get attached to something I think is cool and then when I read the original work that is actually much better I can't appreciate it because I'm too attached to a poor reflection.

I don't know if I'll read any of the other ones or just leave it at the first one. I guess it depends on whether it leaves me with a need for more.

Is anyone else excited for the movie? Is anyone a big fan of the book? Does anyone know why blog questions at the end of posts are always in italics?

Monday, July 9, 2012

A Cold Glass of Summertime!

Okay, this post is about something that we made for an Independence Day party, but I took the 4th off from blogging, and Friday is when I post about my projects, so the following is a little late in coming. It was very good, though, so I still wanted to share it.

My wife found these neat flavored lemonade recipes on this really cool blog called A Beautiful Mess. We almost made some of them for our son's Beatles themed birthday, but with all of the stuff we had to do we decided to save it for another day. So this past Fourth of July we were invited to a party and decided that this was the perfect opportunity to try Cucumber Mint Limeade.

In the original recipe they leave how you want to do the actual limeade up to you, but we figured, we're making this awesome drink recipe, we might as well start with fresh limeade. Limeade is pretty simple to make anyway, it's just three ingredients. We started by juicing six limes. I had only ever used those bowl juicers with the cone in the middle, so this hand press style was interesting to try. I feel like the bowl style juicers do a better job of collecting the juice than holding a press over a measuring cup, but I could have just used a container with a wider opening. The main benefit of this juicer is that you don't have to fish the seeds out of the juice.

We mixed in 1 1/3 cup sugar and about 14 cups of cold water. I would recommend adding a little less water than you think you'll need and tasting it to see if it's a good flavor. The recipe that I looked up said to put more water than I put in, but I didn't want to completely lose the tartness.

Once you have your limeade made it's time to spice it up. Take a cucumber and slice it into thin slices and add it to the limeade. Our cucumber was a little big so I didn't end up using the whole thing. Next add about about a handful of chopped mint leaves.

Your results should look something like this:

The longer you let it sit the more the flavors will infuse the limeade. We had some left over the next day and it was very flavorful. The presentation is best fresh, though, because the mint leaves start to discolor after a day, but it's still delicious.

If you want to see the original recipe you can find it here. Next we're going to try the Strawberry Basil Lemonade. I can't wait!

Friday, July 6, 2012

I Made Shorts!

Okay, so the title is kind of a lie. I didn't so much make shorts as I did make pants into shorts. Regardless, I figured I'd put it on here in case anyone else out there wanted to stick it to the man. That man being the man who's trying to charge you just as much for shorts as he does for pants even though it takes half the fabric to make it!

I have been wanting some new shorts for a while now. I've recently lost weight so half of my shorts are far too large now and the other half are big on me. Most shorts that I see for a decent price seem to be the sloppy, cargo pocket type and I wanted something a little different than that. I went to Goodwill one day and found this pair of Dockers that looked brand new, were the perfect size, and cost $2.50! So I snatched those suckers up and took them home to turn them into shorts.

The first thing I did was, of course, wash them. After that I tried them on and figured out how long I wanted them. I just figured out one leg so that I could make sure the other leg was exact. I just pushed the leg into itself because I wasn't ready to commit to cutting them yet.

I folded them over and made the other leg even with the first.

Then I unfolded them and realized they weren't even at all. How did that happen? I think I was evening out the bottom without realizing the top wasn't even. Let's try folding them over again.

Yep definitely uneven

Evened out

MUCH better
 Now, for the actual hemming I'm going to tell you how I did it... followed by how you should do it.

I find that when I change thread on my sewing machine it never works right at first, so make sure you do a test sew. This helps get your adjustments right for that type of fabric as well. Thankfully there's a lot of fabric that's getting cut off so there's plenty of room to test.

Looks fine on one side

Looks icky on the other
 I have trouble sewing straight lines, so I did a double row of pins so I would have a nice runway to sew down. I used the little lines on machine as well. Everything helps.

Once I hemmed all the way around I pulled the pant legs back out and cut them off.

Inside out

Inside out after cutting off the extra

Now, this is the part where I tell you the things I did wrong. I'll start with the simplest first. The first leg that I hemmed I just started sewing without paying attention to where I started. This resulted in having this ugly little stitching in plain view. I'm glad it's at least on the back but still.

On the second leg I made sure it was near the seam. It's even better if you put it on the inside of the leg... which I didn't think of at the time.

The solution to the other thing I did wrong is a little more involved. When I hemmed the shorts I just folded the pants under and sewed it down. This left an unfinished edge inside. Now it will unravel and probably cause problems in the future. To fix this problem I'll eventually have to take these over to my mom's house and use her surger which will sew the edge and prevent it from unraveling. To demonstrate my point I've created a crude drawing using MS Paint. Yay!

What I should have done is folded the edge under and ironed it down, then folded it over and ironed it again, and then hemmed it. Like the second diagram in the picture.

Too cool for school.

Here I am modeling the result! I'm pretty happy with my new shorts. I'd like to try making some clothes from scratch next. Have you ever made any clothes before?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Independence Day

Happy Independence day! Hope you and yours have a good one. I'm taking today off. I'll see you all Friday.

Monday, July 2, 2012


I hope everyone had a good weekend, and remained safe from the storms. I had a great weekend! On Saturday we went and explored Michael's for about an hour. We didn't buy much. We got my wife a couple pairs of flip-flops, because hers were so dead that they had been repaired several times already and were falling apart again. Who knew Michael's would be a good source for flip-flops? Aside from that we really just looked around. We considered buying about ten different things that we then put back. I think we were mostly just looking for inspiration anyway.

After Michael's we went to an Asian buffet! We had been talking about going to Super King for a while now, and when I say "we" I mean "I". We just decided to spur of the moment. When we got close we started seeing signs for a lunch special at Hibachi Sushi Supreme Buffet and started to wonder if we should go there instead. Then when we got there it turns out it just took the place of Super King! We had to laugh at that, especially since nothing was different inside and all of the plates and things still said Super King.

We had planned to go to a cook out/pool party that night but it got cancelled due to power being out at the hosts house, oppressive heat, and quite a few people coming down with some kind of bug. Hopefully they're all feeling better. Thankfully the bug did not visit us.

On Sunday we were trying to figure out what to do for lunch and we happened to have these personal size pizza crust things in the pantry so I decided to make a pizza. I think they were gluten free crusts originally for my brother-in-law, but they weren't vegan so he can't eat them. Score! I decided to go a with a simple meatless pizza. First I brush olive oil over the crust. I decided not to use pizza sauce and spread hummus over it instead.

Sabra Hummus. Only the best... store bought hummus.

Then I sliced up some red onions.

Farmer's Market onions.
 Then I added some baby spinach.

Then I topped it with CHEESE! I think it was parmesan.

Probably would have been better shredded.
 It was delicious! It probably would have been good with some grilled chicken on there too.

For dinner my mother-in-law made a soufle and my wife sliced up some red potatoes and some spring onions with some seasoning and cooked them in a pan. Afterward we went to Sweet Frog! I'm tempted to feel like a fatty, but some of the people at Sweet Frog were eating out of containers that more closely represented buckets than bowls so I still feel pretty good about myself.

Did anyone else do anything exciting this weekend? Eat anything delicious?