This is a long overdue post about my cats. Which is really a post about my new camera. Someone pretty awesome (Sweetie) remembered me mentioning that I’d really like to own a good camera by the time we have the baby. And so, on my recent birthday, he surprised me with a snazzy Canon Rebel T3i. (I really have no idea what the random letters/numbers after the “Rebel” part mean, but thought I’d better include that info too, just in case that stuff is important.)
The verdict? I love my new camera. LOVE IT! I feel very grown up having options to change aperture and focus and f-stops and such (although I don’t really understand what any of those words actually mean), and knowing that if I want to go all rogue I can switch off of auto mode and (gasp!) manually take charge of my settings (although, honestly, automatic mode seems to be working pretty well for me at the moment.)
And (most importantly) my snazzy new camera takes awesome pictures of the cats.
Which, I’m guessing, means that it’ll likely also take rather fantastic pictures of the baby.
Who could ask for anything more than that? :)
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House hunting woes (location, location, location! – vs – perfect house, perfect house, perfect house…)
With our closing date quickly (rapidly, in fact) approaching (t-minus seven-ish days!) (insert panic attack HERE…) we’ve been house hunting like the dickens (in between packing, more packing, and even more packing still.) While we can absolutely stay with family for a while once this house closes and until we take possession of our next (not yet purchased) home, we obviously do not want to overstay our welcome.
(Erik is a big fan of this moving thing. Moving = boxes. And boxes = one very happy cat.)
The problem? We’re having a tough time finding suitable (ie: not decrepit or showing major electrical flaws or just plain old infected with a big case of ugly) properties within our ideal price range and available in our preferred area. The community we’re looking at is a small village that’s just outside of the city. Home prices are smaller, lot sizes are bigger, and it just seems like a very friendly place to live and features most of the amenities we’d need on a daily basis (grocery store? Check! Small hardware store? Yep! Gas station? Oui! Bank? You betcha! Liquor store? Hell yes!)
But, because it’s a small town, not many properties are ever available at any particular time. Currently there are about seven houses available within our price range in our beloved village, and we’ve visited six of them (and ruled five of them out.) Two came equipped with copious amounts of knob and tube wiring (which we’d need to have removed before taking possession in order to qualify for a mortgage through our bank.) One felt very unstable – the upper floors had most definitely shifted to various, rather unsettling angles (Sweetie instantly got vertigo) (and vertigo means NO.) One had a great deal of water in the basement, and boasted the world’s tiniest kitchen (with no room to expand.) Another had several haphazardly constructed additions, and a rather scary damp crawlspace. And the house that we have not visited is listed as an “as-is” sorta deal, and claims to be “160 years young” (and, unfortunately, as-is plus archaic doesn’t strike me as a particularly good combination.)
There is, however, one house that is in the running. It’s on a beautiful tree-lined street (my favourite kind of street!) and has so much potential! We’ve visited it twice now, and haven’t yet entirely ruled it out. However, nor have we agreed that it should definitely be our next home.
First, the layout doesn’t thrill me. For example, there is no defined entryway (you enter directly into the living room) and while I acknowledge that we could definitely create some sort of entryway area with a cleverly placed wardrobe or strategically aligned bookshelf (I’ve already done some anticipatory “how to create an entryway” searches a la Pinterest, of course) (you know… just in case…), I like having a formal entry space where shoes can be hidden, coats are out of sight, and all the messiness that tends to form around the main entrance door can quickly be stashed away from view.
Secondly, there’s the kitchen counter conundrum. While I actually like the layout of the kitchen, the counters must go. They must, in fact, go far far away. The counters have been (rather haphazardly) tiled with some sort of beige tile, and while I’m not normally a countertop snob (I lived with THIS counter for over two years, afterall), I’m not a super huge fan of tiled counters. There’s the porous grout. There’s the nooks and crannies. There’s just something about it that seems a bit unclean to me.
Then, there’s the basement. I have this same problem each time we’ve searched for new homes: I don’t like scary and unusable basements. Crawlspaces are even worse. That said, this basement isn’t overly scary. There’s no dirt on the floor, and it’s brightly lit. However the ceiling height is at about five feet, which means that while (exceedingly tall) Sweetie has to pretty much maneuver around the basement on his knees, even I have to duck. Claustrophobia is a very real type of fear. Thus, by default, the low ceiling height makes the basement quasi-scary.
But most alarming is the back yard. Oh, that back yard… I’m guessing the current owners’ goal was to make the backyard into a meadow-like oasis. Or they’re exceedingly bad gardeners. Or a little of both. There are various wildflowers scattered haphazardly about, but far more prominent are the weeds and overgrown bushes and… well… just stuff everywhere. It’s more a thick dense jungle than a meadow-like oasis. The yard does have potential however – it’s a rather deep lot (over two hundred feet deep) and it has many mature trees (a must for me!) and tonnes of privacy (a must for Sweetie!) but I’m just not sure if I’m up for tackling that ginormous and overgrown space. I was an indoor child, afterall. A spectacular gardener I am not.
Sigh… Decisions decisions. Like my friend Jess said one night while I was lamenting all this to her (during one of our rather epic marathon phone chats): you can change a house, but you can’t change your neighbourhood. And I’m definitely keeping that in mind. Having once lived on a very busy street that I despised from the moment we moved in till the day we moved out, I fully understand that location is possibly the most important consideration when choosing a home.
Yep. Awesome location may indeed trump all the negatives about this house. Even the Amazon out back.
I’ll keep you posted. :)
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So three cats go into a car (and that’s it. No punchline. Just three cats in a car. With me and Sweetie. All weekend.)
With the house finally (fiiiiiiinally) on the market (yay!), the showings and open houses have begun. This past weekend was, in fact, completely devoted to open houses. As in the entire weekend. Two open houses on Saturday, two on Sunday. For a total of five hours each day. Yep. It was a lot and (in all honesty) seemed a little like open house overkill to me. But in the rather tricky world of real estate, this was probably the equivalent of our go-big-or-go-home moment. And our agent was quite enthusiastic about this strategy (and, well, he’s the expert!) so we gave him the official thumbs up on his plan.
The problem with being both a home seller and a cat owner? The two don’t mix particularly well. I like my cats. Sweetie likes our cats. Lots of people love our cats. And as they should – our three fur-babes are pretty darn awesome and friendly and adorable, if you ask me. :) But, sadly, home seekers aren’t necessarily kitty-friendly. There’s the smell-stigma (“ohhhh… honey, look… they have cats… let’s try really really hard to find some sort of cat smell somewhere in this house… it must be here somewhere…”) There’s the distraction (afterall, the kitties are indeed ridiculously cute.) And there’s the terrifying possibility that during all of the open house comings-and-goings one sneaky little fur-ball could weasel its way through the front door.
So what do we do?
We go on field trips! All of us. Sweetie, me, and the three cats, all in one car together.
When we sold our last home, we quickly discovered that the easiest way to create home selling harmony was to pack the cats up in their individual carriers and bring them for a mini roadtrip during house showings. During open houses, they’d get treated to a full-blown field trip to a local park for a couple of hours.
And so, in keeping with house-selling tradition, Jacob, Irwin, Erik, me and Sweetie all hung out at the park for most of the weekend while random strangers wandered through our home. Were the cats excited? No. But did they survive? Absolutely. After about thirty minutes of initial panic, they all settled down and spent the remaining four-ish hours exploring the car/looking out the window/napping.
Until the house sells (hopefully soon!), we’ll likely keep the car set up like a big rolling kitty crate. There’s a litterbox in the back, and a food bowl and water, and some puppy training pads and lots of old towels too just in case of accidents. It’s not pretty, but it’s functional. And if it helps make these outings a little less stressful for the kitties, so be it.
That said, if you need to carpool with someone, I’m likely not your best choice right now. Unless you like a whole lotta cat fur on your clothes.
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It’s always darkest before the dawn (a tour of our pretty painted/primped bedroom) (and an examination of my newly unemployed state)
I’ve been a bit unintentionally MIA for the past couple of weeks. In all honesty, the last-week-of-workness, trying-to-get-house-ready-to-list-ishness, OMG-need-to-find-another-job-soon-ness, and all of the related stress took its toll on me last week and I sorta just wanted to curl up in a corner and sleep for a bit.
But all that is over now. Work is done, for better or for worse. I’m applying for jobs like crazy and hoping that a promising phone call from some nice prospective employer-person (who thinks I’m awesome and wants to pay me loads of money to come work at their fine organization) comes soon. We’re working on the house and have been in talks with our agent so we can list as soon as possible. And we’re looking at other houses and trying to make smart and solid plans for what to do next.
But, in the midst of all this chaos, I realized that I never posted my “look-what-we-did!” big reveal on our bedroom makeover. So I thought I’d take a bit of a timeout from everything else and indulge in a quick “tada!” moment. :)
First, let’s take a looksee back on what the room looked like pre-painting/-primping/-improving, k? Our room wasn’t terrible. At all! But I’m not a sage green kind of girl – I’d like to be, and I like it in other people’s homes, but it’s just not me.
A couple coats of BM Revere Pewter later (plus a pretty pendant light, a much-obsessed-about new duvet cover and some new curtains too) and here’s our lovely little bedroom now (on a mighty sunny day!)…
I’m particularly happy with our curtains (Matilda from the awesome curtain-making folk over in Ikea-land.) Cheap and cheerful and sorta girly but simple.
And I’m also in love with our duvet cover. Also cheap. Also cheerful. Also Ikea (Alvine Orter.)
For now I’ve tossed (er, lovingly and carefully placed) a random navy and red striped Roots blanket that I’ve had for eons at the foot of the bed. Once spring hits (weather-wise at least!) I’ll likely swap the heavy blanket out for a lighter throw. But for the time being, it works. :)
And I’m ridiculously pleased by how nice our freshly painted walls look against our awesome black-brown Hemnes dressers. I’ve been wanting to paint a room (a wall? A random piece of furniture? Anything!) Revere Pewter for years. Mr. Benjamin Moore? You did not disappoint!
So there’s your mini bedroom makeover update! There are still a few additional plans in the works. New colourful pillowcases, and maybe a few throw cushions too, to make the head of the bed a bit prettier. Snazzy new bedside lamps perhaps. Maybe even a new nighttable for Sweetie (since the nighttable cleverly and deliberately hidden on his side of the bed is archaic and rather awful looking.) If you look really closely, the ugly nightstand (and ugly lamp and one uninspiringly beige pillow) sneakily snuck into the corner of this pic…
Silly photo-bombing pillow! Updates on further updates to follow. :)
But for now, Jacob is a really big fan of what we’ve accomplished to date. So much so that he refused to leave the room (or, really, the bed) while I wandered around taking pics (hence some of the somewhat wonky angles in these images – I was working around a rather stubborn cat.) But, really, how could I say no to this little orange face?
Yup. Jacob knows exactly how to get his way with his cat-loving fur-friendly mom. Smart boy.
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A tisket, a tasket, I found a brand new (sale-priced!) basket (alternate title: three cheers for Michaels!)
Michaels rocks. Can I say that? It really really does. (And I’m not a Michaels ambassador and they’re not paying me for that endorsement, I just love them lots and lots!) (not that I’d say no if they offered…) (just saying.) I popped into my local Michaels store the other day to pick up another ball of yarn for my ongoing scarf project (since I’m knitting like a madman over here lately) and I walked out with…
-a lovely basket I found on sale (regularly $44, all mine for $22!)
-a pretty metallic picture frame picked out of the clearance pile for $4 (happy squeal!)
-a sheet of lovely scrapbook paper that was neither on sale nor on clearance (but it’s pretty and, at $0.99, it still felt like a ginormous bargain)
…and my ball of yarn (of course!) Quite the hodge-podge-y group of items eh? But, oh… I had plans. All of this Michaels-bounty (minus the yarn) went toward updating my little living room and faux fireplace.
And, that all said, here’s the result of lots of rearranging and tweaking and pondering and tweaking some more…
Tada! OK. So it’s not necessarily a hallelujah moment, but I think it looks better. :) Here’s what I did…
I summoned my inner DIY-er and created the world’s easiest art for inside my new (really really inexpensive!) metallic frame (which, btw, reminds me a lot of the fancy gold frames my grandmother used to have scattered around her house) (which, of course, makes me love this frame even more.) The instructions?
-cut a 4×6″ rectangle (to match the size of the frame) from a sheet of basic white printer paper
-fold it in half and cut a heart into it (a la grade one Valentine’s Day art project)
-put said piece of paper (minus cutout heart) in the frame (letting the brown cardboard backing that came with the frame peek through the cutout)
…and poof! Instant 30 second art.
Super cute, eh? And, almost as important, super easy!
That all said, I can’t really take any credit for this project. I first saw this idea here on House Pretty’s lovely blog. My method is a little different, but the overall end result is pretty similar. And I don’t want to be a big bad awesome easy art project idea thief! So, House Pretty, I’m totally tipping my hat to you on this one. :)
My second easiest-ever DIY art project? Adding that lovely $0.99 scrapbook paper to a frame for an instant print. No fancy instructions required, just add scrapbook paper to frame, put frame in a frame-worthy spot, and admire. Done!
The paper I used doesn’t even really fit my frame, if you want to get all technical about it. The paper is 12×12″ I think (or whatever standard scrapbook paper size is) and the frame is matted for an 11×14″. But it still works. Truth be told, I kinda want to wallpaper my entire house with this scrapbook paper. So springy! So happy! I’m hoping to find other places around the house where I can use this pretty paper shortly (which, in turn, means another trip to Michaels – yay!) I love it just that much.
As does Jacob. Lesson learned: never try to take pictures of things on the floor. When you do, this happens…
Yup. Jacob agreed that this scrapbook paper was the prettiest he had ever seen (and, as a result, he felt he should roll around on it.)
I’m hardly a scrapbooking aficionado, but I’m guessing that cats don’t make very good scrapbookers.
And last (but definitely not least) (in fact, the opposite of least… most?)…
The basket is my absolute favourite addition to the room. I’ve been searching for a basket to fill the fireplace void for a while now, but baskets are crazy expensive (and I’m rather frugal.) Which is why I did a little happy dance in the middle of Michaels when I realized that all of their baskets were marked 50% off. Woo! And I’m pretty sure I practically skipped out of the store. (I tend to do that when I find a good deal. People look at me funny, but I don’t care. Cocked eyebrows can’t compare with the joy of finding a bargain.)
Doesn’t it look cozy all filled with blankets? Yep! I’m ridiculously pleased with my find. :)
So there! Those were my Michaels-inspired updates! I made a couple of non-Michaels-related improvements too, like the framed black and white pic of me and my girlfriends from back in our university years (that I found while rummaging through our second bedroom last weekend) (we look so young… sigh!) And I did a bit (um, a lot) of rearranging too.
All in all, the room is coming. Slowly but surely. I figure by the time we decide to sell the house I’ll get it right. I still need something on the wall to the left of my pretty little faux fireplace (besides the cats’ beloved scratch post, of course) but that’s a whole different story (that I’ve already obsessed a bit about HERE) for a whole different day.
Until then, I’ll likely continue rearranging things weekly-ish and posting regular fireplace-mantel updates.
Excited? Me too. :)
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