December 4, 2016: Hola everyone! Winter has arrived in Milwaukee and there are snow flurries today. Despite several hard freezes remarkably my "spikes" in two of my patio planters have absolutely refused to die. The rosemary and thyme plants I nursed inside the house through last winter spent the summer in their pot outside next to the side stoop off the driveway, where they get plenty of sunshine all day long. I transplanted them into a cozy sheltered spot right next to the stoop in October and they are still green and growing, too! With the delay in getting the drywall patching done in the relatively minor "reconstruction" work I had done in my kitchen, I am way behind my time in getting the house decorated. But yesterday I got my wreath decked out with extra lights and dressed the front door of the house, and my battery-operated traditional candles were put up on the window sills all around the house Friday evening. It becomes a ritual to go around at dusk and turn the tops to the right to turn the candles "on" and at bedtime to go around and turn the tops to the left to turn the candles "off." Today I put some "glittery" throw pillow covers purchased new last month from H&M on three of my sofa pillows to glam things up a bit in the living room and add some sparkle. Later on, after I sufficiently fuel myself up with wine and snacks and probably to distract myself while I listen to the Packers game on the radio, I will huff and puff and pull my artificial tree up from storage in the basement. I will decorate it simply this year. Every year I say that, and every year I end up throwing just about everything except the kitchen sink on the tree. I am very proud of myself this year, though. I did not buy a single new ornament or Christmas doo-dad for the house (throw pillow covers don't count!!!) Happy Holidays to all, with hope and fervent prayers for 2017. I've a feeling we're all going to need a lot of help from Goddess in the coming year. Jan

Saturday, June 28, 2014

I Got the Kitchen Blues

Hola darlings!

This is the kitchen I wanted -- at 4029, the house I did not buy (could not reach agreement with sellers on a purchase price, we were $2,000 apart in price and both stuck to our guns; ultimately, this house, listed for $169,900, sold for $168,000 -- much more than what I paid for 3982 with identical square footage and general lay-out, just up the block):


This is the kitchen I'm buying at 3982:


The basic lay-out and floor area of each kitchen are mirror images of each other, right down to the angled double sink in the corner looking out through two corner windows.  But - oh my - the differences.  Holy Hathor!

And the Winner Is....

Two houses in contention, but I can only buy one...

4002
 

3982
And the winner is -- 3982.  I am closing on its purchase on Monday - finally!  It took a ridiculously long amount of time to get to this point.

I really really liked 4002, but in the end, I was swayed by the list of recent improvements that the owners of 3982 had undertaken: new siding on house and garage; new concrete patio in back yard; new privacy fence to screen patio; new furnace and AC unit in 2013; beautifully refinished hardwood floors in the bedrooms; newer architectural style shingle roofs on house and garage; new vinyl plank flooring in the kitchen/dinette in a luscious dark cherrywood tone (that clashes horribly with the oak finished cabinets); newly remodeled main floor bathroom; updated kitchen; new front and rear exterior doors; new windows; new sliding patio door with steps down to the backyard (not shown on any of the listing photos, but if you look in through the picture window above you can see straight back through the living room to the patio doors in the dinette). 

I still have tweaks of panic now and then that I bought the wrong house (4002 has many appealing aspects), but to back out now would be disastrous for the young couple buying my house, and the young couple selling me their house, and the people who are selling my sellers their house!  Just cannot do it.  My rational side tells me that I will have little to worry about for years to come in buying 3982, other than installing a new water heater in a couple of years and decommissioning the old chimney.  Oh, and the brick veneer across the front of the house needs to be "re-tied" to the studs in some places and the stone cap on the brick half wall underneath the bedroom windows needs to be reset.

So, I will live right next store to 4002 and be witness to see what the lucky person(s) who eventually move in do around the place; it is under contract but has been pending for months.  I believe the buyers cannot sell their house, or more likely, cannot sell their house for the money they need to afford to buy 4002. 

So, shortly I will be embarking on the next phase of my life -- that of living in a much smaller house and yards.  My hands are itching to get at it.  As you can see, 3982 doesn't have much curb appeal, and there is lots of painting and minor remodelling to do inside.  What a thing to take on nearly at my 63rd birthday.  Geez, Jan! 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Shopping for a New House: House 5

Hola darlings.

Spring has, at last, sprung at Maison Newton and I've been so busy the past several weekends doing yard work, OY!  This is one of the reasons I wanted to downsize to a smaller house and smaller yard than what I have now. I love my yards and my gardens, but they are, quite frankly, too much for me to handle on my own at this point in my life.  My plan was for Mr. Don to be here with me during our Golden Years to help with the necessary.  He loved puttering around in the gardens, too.  But it did not come to pass.   

So - on to House 5.  If you take a look at the prior posts, you will see my adventures with Houses 4, 3, 2 and 1. 

House 5 went on the market on or about May 1st.  When I opened up the browser early one morning, still half asleep, sipping my instant coffee before doing the trudge back upstairs to get ready for work, my eyes widened and I instantly became fully awake when I saw A NEW LISTING!

The house is 3982 S. 74.  In fact, next store, directly to the north of 4002 S. 74 (House 4).  I had finally viewed 4002 on May 2nd, and so admired what it had to offer and its potential, I was ready to put in an offer to buy it.  BUT -- I wanted to see 3982 before reaching a final decision.  I was itching to pull the trigger on a house at this point. I had had enough of looking at houses and dickering with sellers.  I wanted to settle on a place and BUY IT. 



There she is - 3982.  This is a typical basic ranch style house for our area: three small bedrooms, one bath, one living room, one kitchen with dining area.  Full 11 course concrete block basement as large as the square footage above.  Stone or brick facade on front of house, aluminum or vinyl siding on the rest of the house.  Ranch-style windows (narrow and short) in bedrooms.  Separate garage built at the back of the lot.  They were put up in our area by the thousands during the 1950-1960's.  This particular house was built in - 1955.  4002 and 4029 were built the following year, in 1956, but have the exact same floor plan, with minor variations in bedroom configurations, and identical square footage on the main living area. 

Here is what 3928 did not have: 4002's lovely bay window with crank-out windows on either end to provide cross-ventilation with the dinette window (that had two narrow windows on either side of a large picture window that could be opened), and a curved front sidewalk with a beautiful decorative flowering tree, expertly trimmed shrub linking the public sidewalk area to the house walk-way, and the driveway-side lot line adorned with climbing roses at either end of the house;  OR 4029's cute and smartly-designed front garden area, sharp decorative paint job with cool colors, decorative shutters, and decorative metal thing hung between the two front bedroom windows to provide the final finishing touch.

All can be fixed, of course, but still...

OF COURSE 3982 sellers' schedule and mine did not coordinate.  I had hoped to see 3982 the same evening I saw 4002, but alas, it did not come about.  I was not able to view 3982 until the evening of Friday, May 6th. Four long days of waiting, tick tick tick, and having ants in my pants the entire time...

The property listing for 3982 made a point of noting that the following items were new: (1) furnace; (2) air-conditioning unit; (3) remodeled main floor bathroom, with new bath tub; (4) siding on house AND garage; (5) exterior doors (front door, side door that exits at driveway and -- PATIO DOOR!!!!!)  The Patio Door is extremely important because that meant these owners took the time and expense to replace the 1950's style picture window in the dinette area looking out over the backyard with a brand new (mini-blinds inside) sliding patio door, with new steps, down to a (6)  beautifully finished concrete patio and (7) fully privacy-fenced backyard.  Let's see, did I miss anything? Oh yeah, (8) a new high-end laminate floor installed in the kitchen/dinette area in a rich deep red mahogany-like color that I fell in love with instantly upon seeing it in person.  This flooring was NOT shown in any of the listing photographs, BTW.  Neither was the patio door.