Monday, January 23, 2012

And the winner is...


This is our new home. I can't believe I can actually say that!! And really, I shouldn't, because we haven't had the inspection yet and we haven't closed yet. But I'm confident and so in love with it, that I had to blog it. Even if something terrible happens and we lose it, I want to remember how excited we were to find it!

Let me just tell you. This house needs a LOT of work. And the photos I'm about to share with you do not, by any means, do it justice. It's in pretty rough shape, but all it really needs is love. The inspection is Wednesday and we close in the middle of March, so we will be able to move in as soon as we get to California in April!

In no particular order, here are the photos I took of the house while we were there and some commentary on our upcoming projects!

 This is the beautiful kitchen! It's pretty great as it is, I have to say. The countertops are granite and the cabinets are very well-made. The stove and microwave you see are brand new, as I assume the previous owner took what was in there before the foreclosure. The dishwasher is functional, but severely dented and dinged up just below where the photo cuts off. It also leaks, so we negotiated that into the price of the house. A new one will be installed right after we move in. Also, a lot of the tiles have chips in them from various things. We haven't decided when we will retile the kitchen, but it is on the backburner for now.

This is the cement courtyard behind the short walls you can see from the front of the house. It needs to be sealed and refinished, but that's something we (Art) can do ourselves (himself). Then I can plant sunflowers and pansies and rosemary and whatever else my heart desires on the perimeter, because PLANTS GROW in CALIFORNIA!! 

This the view down the street from the courtyard. Feel a little like you should go whiten your teeth, right? Wisteria Lane much? But it's very safe and quiet and that's why we like it. Someday maybe I'll get my farmhouse on the waterfront, but I enjoy this view for now. :)

This is the view if you turn about 45 degrees after you walk in the front door. I want to get rid of those ugly light fixtures (there's another one toward the front of the house), but I don't know yet what I want to replace them with. This will more than likely be the sitting room where the piano will go. We may turn the other half into a formal dining room as well... but we have none of the furniture for either rooms, so maybe after we win the lottery. For right now, our piano is going in a really big room! :) The mantle you see in the front of the picture is a very strange fake marble work bench that will be torn out.

I should also mention now that we are having all the walls painted a beautiful grey color and the carpets all torn out and replaced with hardwood laminate flooring. That depletes our home improvement budget for the time being, so that will be the last of the major improvements until we can recoup a little bit. The photos also don't really show how bad the carpet is, but it has to go before the house is even livable. Home Depot is running a $37 installment special, so in goes the hardwood!

This is turning another 45 degree turn toward the front door. The natural light in the house is killer.

I took a close up of the cabinets so that we can replace the drawers that have been removed. Hopefully we can find replacements, otherwise we'll be cabinetless until we can afford to reface them all!

All the cabinets have this very bizarre red-pink splotches on them. I'm hoping a little TLC will take care of that!

Busted dishwasher. Bummer.

Don't know what the dude who was living here before is doing with 7 drawers. 

The pantry. And I thought I had it all in Del Rio... 

This is what sold the house for me. One of my favorite things about the house we live in now is that it faces East, so that the sunset lights up the whole back of our house. This house does the same thing, and these windows are at the back of the house. Just love it. I would eventually love to put paneling and beams on the ceiling and put a stone facade on the fireplace to really make it feel like a Tahoe lodge, but that's in the very distant future. I'm just so happy to have a fireplace and all this light!!

This is what all the outlets look like. I have no idea why, but hopefully some newer, nicer face plates will cover up some of the damage, so that we can just spackle over it and call it a day.

This one of the house's "quirks." There are bizarre cords, wires, and pipes sticking out of random places in the walls everywhere. Hello, contractor?

PS. Do you see out the spackle doesn't match the texture of the wall? Why are textured walls so popular? They are impossible. Every time you damage or ding up a wall, you have to retexture the whole thing. Who thought that was a good idea. I'm currently looking for a nice piece of artwork to cover that up, because I'm definitely not doing all that.

We call this the "panic room." If you look at the fourth picture I posted, you will see a little vent in the corner of the front room. That vent leads to that itty bitty hole in the wall. It's just a hole in the wall. You can see the random pipes on the right side of the photo. They go to the front room. For no reason. This is also the room the previous owner locked himself in when the repo men showed up, so there is no doorknob. It's use is yet to be determined... although I kind of want to put some crucifixes and pictures of the Pope in there.

Upstairs, this is the master bedroom. See all the light???? In love. Our bed will go just perfectly in between those windows! The window on the left is off the track, but hopefully an easy fix.

Half the master closet. One of my future projects is to totally go organizing crazy in here, with build-ins and shelving units and a light up shoe cabinet. For the shoes I don't have. But maybe I'll buy. If I could ever spend money on stuff like that. Which I can't. I'll probably buy fabric instead. Maybe I'll store my fabric in here! 

Master bath. Not a huge fan of the cheap laminate counters, but I love the window!

This is out of the master bathroom, and you can kind of see the size of the yard in this one. It needs landscaping. Someday.

Master sink. Minus a drawer. 

This made us crack up... kind of. Underneath the carpet on the upstairs landing, there is a hole in the floor. It goes no where. Just a hole. But Fannie Mae's (yes, that one) idea of a fix is to put some particle board in the hole and hope someone puts an offer on the house before they find it. Our contractor will be fixing that before the floor is laid, of course.

The office, where Art's office furniture that he doesn't have will go. You can kind of get a glimpse of how terrible the carpet is in this one. I'm 45% sure that's not blood.

This is an odd built in at the end of the upstairs hallway. We'd really like to install some quality shelves and put books/knickknacks there, close it off for a linen closet, or something. Ideas are welcome!

Bedroom #2. Pretty standard. Gross carpet.

Double sinks in the guest bathroom... check! I want to frame the mirrors so that it covers up some of the poor caulking that took place there. The bathroom has a separate sink and shower, which is awesome for when we have more than one guest!

Bedroom #3. Basic.

This is right at the top of the staircase... what does one put in one of these things???

That's a random photo to end on, but that's our new place. I feel so fortunate that it was discounted at such an affordable price, because the last time it was sold, it was so far out of our budget we wouldn't even have looked at it. We are buying at the perfect time, and hopefully we can unload this property at an equally perfect time. I'm also grateful to be married to someone as crazy as I am to undertake a DIY house when we really haven't done anything close before. I will be sure to blog our adventures in fixer-uppership, for your entertainment purposes of course!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A California Tease

(Things Part II Forthcoming... I officially cannot blog and have a job at the same time. )

I love California. Love love love. Love more than I thought I would. Love more than I remember from my childhood back and forth in the Bay Area. Knowing that I'll be sharing this wonderful life in this wonderful place with my favorite person in the world is the best feeling.

I spent a lot of my weekend feeling extremely blessed and grateful, almost to the point of guilt. I'm pretty sure it's my multiple personality as a Jewish grandmother (see this post), but guilt controls a lot of my life. In all seriousness, I'm overwhelmed with the idea that I am still young and I have most of the things I ever dreamed of having. I'm talking about more than contentedness... really, I'm having a hard time figuring out what else I could want out of life. IF I get the job that I have been drooling over for a while, I can't imagine anything more perfect. I am very grateful and very lucky.

This weekend we went house hunting. I was so excited to go, because this really was the first house hunting I'd ever done for a house I was actually going to buy. For the house we live in now, I pretty much saw pictures on the Internet, emailed them to Art, and said, "Just in case you ever get around to marrying me--this is THE house." It worked, because I love my house, but I was excited to actually LOOK this time. We were supposed to get to California on Thursday, so I took a half a day off of work so that we could drive out to San Antonio. Unfortunately, we connected through Phoenix and our flight was delayed, so we missed our connection to Sacramento and had to say the night in Phoenix. FORTUNATELY, our friends Stewie and Jess just PCS'd there, so we were able to hang out with them for the night.

That is the most amazing thing about the Air Force--it is remarkably small, so you have friends all over the place! We are so glad we got to see them and look forward to April when we see Lacey and Clay driving through Tuscon! And maybe I can convince Art to schedule an overseas vacay so we can see all of our friends over there. I'm sad that I don't get to see my friends as often, but I just love these serendipitous visits!

We finally arrived to Sacramento at about 9 a.m. on Friday, three hours before we were to meet with our realtor. We had found a house online that we really loved, Waverton, so that was our first stop. I was less than impressed with the neighborhood when we first got there. Lincoln is a really nice place and there are some beautiful homes and great scenery, but the lot sizes are so small it felt like the houses were leaning toward us and the street got smaller. The house itself was beautiful, but the "backyard" was laughable. I mean, I know we only have Peanut, but I spend a lot of time outside reading and just decompressing. I was so bummed out. I needed to see some more houses.

And more houses we saw. A lot more houses. All on narrow streets, all with tiny yards, all about two feet from the neighbors. In the middle of the afternoon, we came upon a house on a curve, Rawlings. The outside was dilapidated, and the first thing I noticed was the poor condition of the driveway and front courtyard. But man, the price was so right, so I figured I'd give it a shot. I always had a desire to buy a house and fix it up, so maybe this was the house I could do that in. (By the way, I say I... but I mostly mean Art. I will write checks to the contractor. I'm super good at that!) We got inside, and it was very evident that this house needed some serious fixing up. The floors were already ruined, there were holes in weird places, the face places of all the outlets had been ripped off, and each room with cabinets was missing about two or three drawers. However... the potential of this place was amazing. The living room had two stories of huge windows, a fireplace that could be gorgeous (once we put it back together), a brand new kitchen with granite counter tops, and a really cozy layout upstairs. Then... we went outside. The backyard was about twice the size of our current backyard. After seeing tiny postage stamp yards all day, I was sold. I loved this place. It needed love and some curtains, and it could be the dreamy, lodge-y, cozy place Art and I had talked about having in retirement. Did I mention the price was right?!

At the end of the day, we went back to Waverton. After a full day of tiny lots, the Waverton property was looking mighty fine. Plus those hardwood floors... I was in like. In California, you are not bound by contract when you put offers on houses, so you are allowed to write offers on multiple properties. It doesn't work that way in Texas, so we were a little leery, but trusted our realtor, Judy, and ended up writing offers on both. It was Friday, so we knew we probably wouldn't hear back from either that weekend, but at least we got the ball rolling. We finished Friday with dinner at one of the Thai restaurants in Lincoln. Art ordered a seafood dish that was not great, but my pad thai was amazing. Several times throughout the night, I just sat in our booth with my martini and admired the many races and ethnicities I could see. I really took this for granted living in Dayton (which is hardly known for its diversity)... but I really enjoy looking at lots of different colors of people, enjoying lots of different cultures, and having the opportunity to converse and share meals with people of all sorts of walks of life. It is one of the things I am most looking forward to when we move to California.

On Saturday morning, Judy wanted us to see two other properties in the area. One, Groveland, was across the street from a park, so it really felt much more open than the other houses we had seen. The backyard was unimpressive, boasting about two square feet of grass. Sorry, Peanut. The inside was amazing. This house is perfect. I had not expected to find a kitchen that rivals the one in Del Rio, but the Groveland kitchen is amazing. The upstairs had hardwood, it had adorable built ins, and lots of space. But the price... yikes. The price was at the very top of our budget, and even further than we were really comfortable spending.

The other house, Towle, was in the world's perfect neighborhood. I hadn't realized it, but moving to California, I was looking for my dad's old neighborhood in Saratoga. I wanted the wide streets, the wooded lots, the secluded houses. I mean... this is the view from the street of my dad's old house... can you even see the house? No. I loved that neighborhood. Maybe, someday. But this Towle neighborhood was damn close. Unfortunately, the house was a big letdown. It was small and tiled, and felt very Southwestern, a feel we are not into and didn't want. But you can bet I will be keeping my eye on that neighborhood, and taking walks there often! However, we left that day wanting to put an offer on the Groveland house as well.

Yes. Three offers. On three houses. In Texas, that would have meant that we could have bought ourselves three houses. In California, whatever. So three houses it was!

Saturday night we grilled out with a few people in Art's new squadron, and I was so excited by how nice everyone was. Now, let me tell you something. Military people are nice. You know why? They can't afford to be mean, because friends cycle in and out so frequently. Friends need to be made fast and often, so you will generally find yourself around very warm, confident, kind people. I love that about the military, and I loved meeting all the Beale pilots and their wives. I think we are going to fit right in this community. (Grateful, again.)

Sunday morning we went to 10 a.m. Mass at what will be our new Church! The Church is new and modern, but really beautiful and I really enjoyed Mass... especially when the priest derobed to reveal his 49ers jersey! I didn't even get a chance to pray for the usual stuff... health, family members, etc., because I was so busy being thankful. What a position to be in!

We spent the rest of the day exploring the area and meeting more Beale folks. Our friend Trigger, who used to live two doors down from us in Del Rio, just bought a house in Roseville, so we went to see that (it's gorgeous!) and watch some football where he is staying while his house is being built. We made it an early dinner at a downtown Italian restaurant, and I discovered something else I'm going to love about California: Wine. Surprised? Ha. The local Lincoln winery produced a red blend that I loved... here's to you, Cali Cali.

I will continue our episode of House Hunters when we know! :)