Monday, August 25, 2014

Roomba Changed My Life

Yes, a Roomba--autonomous robotic vacuum cleaners sold by iRobot--changed my life.

And I'm not afraid to admit it.

Now before you think I'm crazy that a robotic vacuum changed my life, let me give you some background information. We have a two year old Siberian Husky named Juneau. A wooly husky, which means she has longer hair and a denser undercoat than what you typically see with a husky.

Juneau is a constantly shedding hairy beast of a dog.

We have all hardwood floors (or tile) so you would think cleaning the hair would be simple right? You're wrong.

Over the course of a day, Juneau's hair balls up into giant furballs that roam around the house. Just when you think you've swept them all up, the HVAC kicks on and one rolls out from under the couch/chair/entertainment stand. To make matters worse, we have dark hardwood so every single piece of hair shows.

Every day I would hurry home from work to sweep the floor with a rubber-toothed broom before any unexpected guests would arrive. Do you know how embarrassing it is for dog hair tumbleweeds to be rolling around while you're entertaining guests?!

No matter how often and how thoroughly I swept, I never got them all.

That was until Roomba joined our family. 

We purchased the iRobot Roomba 650 from Bed Bath and Beyond (with a coupon, of course), and it was love at first sight.

The 650 is perfect for homes with or without pets. It removes dirt, dust and hair while automatically adjusting to clean carpets and hard floors as it moves through your home. Roomba uses AeroVac™ Technology to maximize airflow, resulting in less hair remaining tangled on bristles and a more evenly filled bin.

The most impressive part is the onboard scheduling. We have our Roomba scheduled to clean at 8:00 a.m. every day. It starts automatically, leaving it's charger and cleans for about two hours. When it's done, it navigates back to it's dock and places itself back on the charger. It's like magic!

Every two days we clean it out to make sure all that husky hair isn't blocking anything or tangled around the brush.

The Roomba is slim enough to fit under our couch, kitchen chairs, and entertainment stand so it is sure to get every last tumbleweed.

There's no more getting behind on cleaning on a busy day. Roomba is always there and always on time. Now I can enjoy coming home to a clean house after work and focus on more important things.

Roomba, I love you.

I'm back!

I've taken a short break from this blog for a bit while I focused on other endeavors.

I've been doing a lot of freelance social media work as well as started a jewelry company, Urban Solstice so it has been a busy time--but that doesn't mean I haven't been collecting information to share on this blog!

Starting today I'm back... full of commitment!

When I started this blog just before I purchased my house about a year and a half ago, I wanted this to be a resource for people who were thinking about buying a home or had just purchased a home, as well as a place for me to share my stories.

I stand by that promise.

Monday, April 28, 2014

All You Need Is Vinegar

Vinegar has been used for 10,000 years, which may just make it the world's oldest ingredient! The main uses for white distilled vinegar are cooking and food preparation as well as cleaning and disinfecting.

Over the last year or so, I've found more and more uses for vinegar and it has since become a staple in my house. Here are some of my favorite uses:

Looking for brighter whites or bolder colors? The answer just might be white distilled vinegar. It’s a safe and inexpensive way to boost the power of your detergent and add a little more muscle to your stain remover. With vinegar in the mix, your clothes have never looked better.
  • By adding it into your wash cycle:
    • Rid your laundry of that musky, mildew smell because you left them in the washer too long
    • Prevent lint from clinging to clothes
    • Remove soap reside that makes black clothes appear dingy and dull
    • Remove smoky odors from clothing
  • Get water and salt stains off leather shoes and bags plus a nice shine
White distilled vinegar is a popular household cleanser, effective for killing most mold, bacteria, and germs, due to its level of acidity. Cleaning with white distilled vinegar is a smart way to avoid using harsh chemicals. You’ll also be glad to know that it is environmentally friendly and very economical.

  • Deodorize and clean the garbage disposal and drains
  • To shine chrome fixtures
  • To clean grease splattered over door windows
  • Cleaning cloudy glassware
  • Getting rid of lime deposits
  • Removing stains from coffee and tea
  • To clean stained plastic food containers
  • Clean scummy shower head
  • Remove the wax residue left by commercial window cleaners (like Windex)
  • Clean woodwork and natural hardwood floors
White distilled vinegar provides many safe alternatives to protect and enhance your garden and gardening tools. Not only will you feel good about keeping children and pets (and you!) away from pesticides and other chemicals, you’ll feel great about the low cost of vinegar compared to those other products.
  • Kill weeds and grass growing in unwanted places
  • Stop ants in their tracks and eliminate ant hills
  • Used in a fruit fly trap
Because white distilled vinegar has so many wonderful uses as a cleaning agent, it’s no surprise that it is also perfect to use on some of your bigger cleaning projects—namely automobiles. The next time you’re washing your car, shift into high gear and really make it shine with a little vinegar.

  • Polish car chrome and use in soap water to shine paint when washing
  • Remove unwanted decals and bumper stickers
  • Remove the hazy film that builds up on the inside of windows

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Happy Homeiversay!

Today I celebrate my one year anniversary of closing.
It's been a wild ride and I am so thankful to have so many people in my life willing to offer a helping hand and endless amounts of advice!

Here's to many more great years!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Confession: This is Harder Than I Thought

So many friends/relatives/other young people (like myself) like to pick my brain about buying a house young. And I give them the standard talking points:
  • It's a great investment to get under your belt early
  • Often times your mortgage plus utilities, insurance, and taxes is less than renting and leasing and, in the end, you have something to show for it
  • It's better than living with your parents
But lately my responses have been a little more morose. I've been disappointed and downtrodden with my whole experience lately and sadly it's affecting how to talk to people about it. I used to be really supportive of others going down the same path but not so much anymore.

Why all the negativity, you ask?

I made a bad investment. Don't get me wrong: I love my house. Love. Love. Love. It's beautiful and gorgeous... at first glance. But it's 105 years old and the majority of those years were of severe neglect by the previous owner. I purchased the house from the city, under the impression that they completely restored and renovated the house into "like new" condition. But what I didn't know is that they bargain shopped contractors, took the lowest bid, then didn't supervise or inspect the work that was completed.

I've spent the better part of the last nine months fighting the city and fighting contractors that could careless about the quality of their work because they got paid and moved on. I've had to hire private inspections, meet with city officials, seek legal counsel, babysit the city-appointed contractors that don't care to listen to me, and manage a construction site and work plan due to the lack of city supervision. I've tried to have the city-appointed contractors removed from my project but the city refuses since they have already paid them for their services, despite the continuing issues. 

If you remember back to one of my earlier entries, I always thought it was a bad idea to purchase such an old house. However, with the full restoration and one year warranty offered by the city, I felt this was a safe bet. Thankfully with all the problems and issues I have with my house, I haven't had to pay for any of the work besides taking days off work to babysit them and by living in a construction site for 9 months. However, the city drags their feet and tries to find ways out of living up to their warranty. I haven't even been able to enjoy owning a home yet. This whole thing has made me bitter.

The truth is: Owning a home is more than a financial commitment. 

I prepared. I OVER prepared. For over two years I crunched numbers trying to figure out how I could own a home and live comfortably. I wanted to do this alone and I didn't want to scrape by. Now I have a kickass budget. I'm able to save money. And I'm still able to spend money on things I enjoy. But the one thing I didn't anticipate was TIME. The time commitment is the hardest part.

During the week we both work every day, I wake up at 6:30 a.m. to shower, get ready, and pack a lunch before an hour drive to work. Work from 9 a.m. to 5:30 or 6 p.m. then another hour drive home. These days I'm lucky if I make it home by dusk, which means I immediately get home, change my clothes, and take the dog on a two mile walk in the dark. Get back from the walk and Marc is just getting home (Marc leaves for work at 5 a.m., before which he has already taken the dog on a long walk before I ever wake up). One of us makes dinner and it's already 8 p.m. At this point, washing the dishes and doing a load of laundry is a big accomplishment because I really just want to collapse on the couch. We get to watch a little TV, read, or I often work from home before the dog is demanding another walk around 9:30 p.m. After that walk, we're pretty much dead for the day.

Then the glorious weekends come, which quickly get filled up with plans for: laundry, sweeping and washing the hardwood floors, cleaning out the gutters, cutting the grass or raking leaves or shoveling snow, working on projects for work, killing the bee's nest, grocery shopping, cleaning up outside so the neighbors don't judge, scrubbing the shower, staining molding, setting mouse traps in the yard and garage since the neighborhood has a pest problem, touch up painting, waking up early in hopes the contractors come on time, waiting around for the contractors who are always late, babysitting the contractors all day to make sure they're doing what they're supposed to be doing and their doing it right then cleaning up after them once they leave, unpacking (yes, after nine months "unpacking" is still on my weekend to-do list and it never happens), and paying bills. 

This schedule repeats itself, week after week. The chores never end and days never get longer. Where does the time go?

Time is money.

When you're budgeting for a house make sure you evaluate your time commitment. It probably won't be a deal breaker but it's nice to know what you're getting yourself into first.

Bottom Line: I still support buying a house early in your life.

I still recommend buying a house while you're young if you have the means and lifestyle to do so. It's a really big responsibility and from what I've learned so far, a really big time commitment. Owning a house is more than budgeting alcohol money, it might mean choosing between going out Friday night and sleeping all day Saturday or going to bed a reasonable hour and waking up early to fix that missing roof shingle, install a security light in your backyard, and help your neighbor cut down a tree. It's the difference between cleaning out your furnace ducts instead of enjoying a weekend at the mall. An early morning hitting the farmers market for a week's worth of healthy meals rather than a hung over morning from a late night of drinking. You really start prioritizing your time in strange ways. Ways you never thought possible.

I don't regret buying a house. I don't regret buying MY house. And I'm adapting to the shake-up in my schedule. But I wish I had a more realistic overview on time commitment going into all this. I wouldn't have been a game changer, but it would have been helpful.

I'm sorry if this came off as me complaining.

I didn't mean for that to happen. I'm just shocked when I think about how much time I spend doing things around the house that I have no control over. I mean, I could stop doing those things. But then I'd have standing water in my basement, no clean underwear, a bee infestation, and the city would be leaving me tickets on my door about the unkempt conditions of the exterior of my house.

So I get it... I have to do these things. And I'm fine with that. And I knew these came with the territory. I want to be a well-functioning, responsible, and well-liked member of society. I only wish there were more hours in a day and more days in a week so I could have more free time to spend doing things I want to do.

Planning will help you win back time. 

Here are some of the things that I'm going to start doing to help me win back some of my time:
  1. Meal prep on the weekends - Plan the meals for the week then shop accordingly so I have everything we need for all of that week's meals. Then start prepping them so they're easier to prepare during the week. For example: If I'm going to have soup all week for lunch then making it and putting it into containers in the fridge for the week will make packing lunches a snap.
  2. Chore Chart - I know it sounds silly but instead of using a chore chart to distribute responsibility I want to use the chart to keep us on track. Letting everything pile up until the weekend doesn't make for an enjoyable weekend. And waking up five minutes earlier or going to bed five minutes later means I can load and run the dishwasher or start a load of laundry.
  3. Sunday Fundays -  When we first started dating we had Sunday Fundays where we would go do something fun. It could be a afternoon movie or a day-long excursion hiking in a state park. I'm pretty sure scheduling fun activities might take some of the fun out of it but it might give some incentive to get the majority of the chores done during the week. 
  4. Make time to go to the gym - What does this have to do with anything? Well I heard that working out will give you energy and I need more energy. Plus I'll just feel better about myself. 
I can do this.

I feel like it is a silly thing to be worried about as a new homeowner. Most people are just trying to financially make it by and I'm upset because I haven't painted my nails lately and I really want to catch up on Dexter.

Do you have any tips to staying on schedule and taking less time to complete chores? Please share!

Monday, November 18, 2013

How to Find Out if Someone Died in Your House

from Wyandotte Patch:
I love a good open house and in my quest to purchase property (and, I’ll admit, motivated by nosiness), I’ve been to more than a few.  
Occasionally I’ll enter a home and immediately feel a shudder come on. When something about a place gives me the willies, I always wonder whether the space has hosted some past horror, or if it’s just my roving psyche that’s been exposed to ‘The Shining’ too many times.
Well, now there’s a website, Died In, for that. For $11.99, the site will divulge if someone has died at an address. The idea came after the site’s co-CEO and president, Ron Condrey, was told by his tenant that his property was haunted: “It occurred to me that a service which told people who died in their homes before they moved in would be popular. It’s harder to find things like this out than you think.”  
At $12 a pop, you’re not likely to go searching for the history of every home in your neighborhood. But this service is clearly something that some home buyers are interested in. Consider Janet Milliken, who found out after buying her home that a murder-suicide had taken place there. She sued the realtors for fraud, arguing in court documents that the seller and the real estate agent made a “deliberate choice not to disclose the home's recent past."  
You probably know if you care as much about your house’s history as Milliken does. Happy hunting/haunting!
I am at a crossroads: should I or shouldn't I?

One of my big things about buying such an old house was that I was afraid of a haunting. I've had confirmed experiences with the paranormal growing up and it is not something I choose to live with again. But so far, so good. Even though my house is 105 years old, it does not appear to be haunted... or at least it hasn't shown itself yet.

So I'm not sure if I want to open that can of worms and tune myself in to what might be happening but I'm somehow able to stay unaware of.

Any thoughts or suggestions? What should I do? Would you want to know if someone had died in your house?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Pantone Emerald Bathroom

I have a recently remodeled bathroom that is gorgeous but pretty much a sea of tan. Tan walls, tan tile, tan, tan tan. I didn't want to repaint or remodel so I went out trying to find something that matches but is also colorful...

I've always loved green but ever since Pantone announced their 2013 Color of the Year, Emerald, I died. With both of us being design nerds, doing a Pantone themed bathroom only seemed fitting--and thankfully, it matched.

The first piece I prepped for the bathroom was an upcycled nightstand that I turned into a Emerald-colored plant stand. (You may remember it from a previous post.)

I used the new line of Pantone paint by Valspar that you can purchase at your local Lowes. These paints are guaranteed to live up to Pantone's exact specifications for tone color.

Next I purchased some bathroom items from JCPenny's Pantone Universe line, including a soap dispenser, toothbrush holder (which I am going to use as a small bud vase), and decorative towels--all in Emerald and white.

Lastly I needed some wall art. Even though has a lot of home decor and other Pantone-color inspired products you can purchase, I couldn't find something that really excited me. Then one night I was admiring the Pantone paint swatch display at Lowes and a light bulb went off, "I should make something with these swatches!" And that's exactly what I did! I paired it with a think white frame from Ikea and this project cost me next to nothing!

Not pictured are the soap dispenser and the toothbrush holder. The soap dispenser did not fit on the pedestal sink and since this is the main floor bathroom, no one showers or brushes their teeth in there. I'm holding on to these two items until I find a small, white, wooden stand to place in the shower. This stand will hold both of these items and give the bathroom the illusion that it is being used for more than just the toilet.

What do you think?

I love it. It's colorful and it makes a statement but it's not loud and obnoxious. And most importantly, it matches the existing aesthetics of the bathroom.