Monday, November 28, 2011

Tudor

There's a 1920s Tudor for-sale-by-owner that just appeared on the market today. I question a few of the renovation choices (a somewhat too industrial kitchen with white cabinets, grey slate floor and lots of stainless steel as well as some iffy paint choices elsewhere), but that's mainly quibbles. It's 4BR/2.5BA (good), 2500 (or maybe 2700?) sq. ft. (good) and is currently priced at $275k (bad). The location is just about ideal. It doesn't look like anybody is living there. I've written the owner to get a showing. The floorplan will make a big difference (the last big house of this vintage I saw was impressive, but had a very choppy upstairs floorplan). The price is out of our range, but we can always make a low offer. The worst thing they can do is say no.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Lewis Carroll

D says: I bet there's a mirror store called Through the Looking Glass.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving

Here's some of what's been happening:
  • My husband and the kids made a pecan pie this morning (the crust was store-bought). Their recipe involves dark corn syrup and a lot of rum flavoring and produces a very rich pie.
  • After a couple days of feeling pretty good, I was feeling weak this morning, so I directed dinner preparations from my chair in the dining room. My husband cooked turkey (smoked turkey breast--a nice solution for Thanksgiving for four), sweet potatoes, Stovetop Stuffing and cranberry sauce (a whole berry recipe from the package). I served dinner (on my 10-inch blue-and-white Spode plates) and dessert (on my 8-inch Blue Willow salad/dessert/lunch plates) and supper (reheated Thanksgiving dinner). I also used my Delft tile trivets for dinner. We'll probably take a break Friday for fish sticks, but Saturday, we'll be back to Thanksgiving fare.
  • C has finished sewing and stuffing the big American Girl stuffed owl and is working on the small American Girl stuffed owl.
  • After some Star Trek: The Next Generation, my husband and the kids have been working on the kids' Electronic Playground.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Anemia update

I forgot to mention that after just over a week of rest and iron supplementation and so forth, I'm feeling pretty good. I haven't really pushed it (no more than 15 minutes of walking at a time), but I can go about my normal business without shortness of breath or heart symptoms. I'll check in with my doctor's office after I finish my 30-day supply of iron pills to see if I need to keep going.

Before Thanksgiving

The usual problem with Thanksgiving at home with the four of us is figuring out what to do with ourselves. Here's some of what's happening:
  • I got a Kumon handwriting workbook for D and a cursive workbook for C at Barnes and Noble this morning.
  • Also, D wanted to buy fabric, so we went to a quilt store and each child got a fat quarter from the $1.50 bin with their own money.
  • Later in the evening, we went to Michaels and I got a 20 oz. bag of stuffing. The kids are making and stuffing so many pillows that we ran out.
  • C's owl kit from American Girl arrived tonight and she is hard at work.
  • We did our pre-Thanksgiving grocery shopping tonight at a better HEB. After several years of wondering about it, I finally got several packs of Reynaldo's Mexican flan pudding. It's very interestingly egg-y. They also had pig heads for 89 cents per pound, but we passed on those.
  • This has been a very shop-y day, but we do need to be seriously prepared for four days more of holiday at home.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Bees

I asked D what he wants to do with his giving money (currently at around $6). D says he wants to buy a beehive. I checked, and bees (or the equivalent) costs $30 at Heifer.

Sewing circle

The kids have been spending much of the day on sewing projects. C is finishing a small stuffed dog (from this kit) while D is decorating and sewing a pillow. C has taught D everything he knows about sewing. C is determined to have D sign up for a sewing class with her this summer.

Real estate report

Usually, the fall is a slow, slow time. Normally, a lot of houses disappear from the online listings, only to reappear in the spring. This fall, however, it's been different. I'm seeing a number of new listings, and people are hanging onto their listings into the fall (although they may yank the listings just before Thanksgiving).

I was just looking at realtor.com, and the stately two-story brick 2900 sq. ft. 4BR/2.5BA 1920s home that I saw with the kids a few weeks ago just fell from $250k to $230k. It's a beautiful home, but you can stand on the lawn and see a very busy street half a block away. Also, the upstairs floorplan is a bit muddled, and the presence of a window AC unit causes me some concern about the energy efficiency of the house. But, still--$230k!!! There's getting to be a band of houses in the low $200s ($230k, $220k (FSBO), $215k (FSBO), $204k and $200k), and then a smaller band in the high $100s ($178k, $170k and $170k).

I think it will be a very exciting spring.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Christmas tamales

It has come to my attention that you can pre-order Christmas tamales from Rosa's Cafe Tortilla Factory, $11.59 per dozen. Now, I don't know if they are any good, but how very convenient!

Progress

Here's some of what's happening:
  • The kids get the whole week off for Thanksgiving.
  • My husband has a big day at work today, but he'll be free for the holiday starting tomorrow. Campus will be shutting down soon.
  • We finally got the car to the dealership for its 90k mile service today and we'll get it back tomorrow. Thanksgiving week turned out to be a surprisingly good time to get the car serviced.
  • C finished sewing a pillow with tassels at the corners. It's supposed to be for the living room. She accidentally left the edges rough.
  • C is saving up to get another American Girl sewing kit. There is currently a bear one for $8 and an owl one for $10--they must be on sale or something. She sewed two raccoon stuffed animals as part of a party favor.
  • D has been doing Disney's Dance Dance Revolution on the Wii.
  • I walked and the kids biked to and from Starbucks this morning. I had no huffing and puffing and almost no heart symptoms this time, so I take it that all those iron pills are starting to take effect. I think my color is better, too, definitely better than on Tuesday when my husband said I was greenish. I am thinking that this week, of all weeks, we shouldn't feel bad about eating out a bunch.

Friday, November 18, 2011

No West Coast trip

On reflection, I have decided that it is unrealistic for me to think that two days from now, I can be hiking through airports with C and luggage and then spending a week of frenzied socializing in WA before trekking back. We canceled my and C's flights this morning and are going to get some cash credit.

Today was the kids' last day of school before their week-long Thanksgiving holiday. I went to D's class's Thanksgiving recitation (all the kids were dressed up either as Indians or Pilgrims), bringing a hot container of fish sticks as our contribution. I left just as the feast was beginning. I didn't make it to C's class party, but I did have a really good nap at home before picking up the kids from school.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Anemia

I'm underway with my anemia-fighting program. I'm taking a bunch of iron, I'm endeavoring to take dairy far away from the iron and I'll try to drink orange juice. Calcium interferes with iron absorption and vitamin C helps it. In general, iron is very fussy, and everything you like interferes with absorbing iron, including caffeine. My research suggests that 3 to 6 weeks is enough to overcome anemia, although iron supplementation needs to continue for a while longer.

I feel a lot better than I did Tuesday morning. I'm actually perky, it's just that I need limit the amount of time I spend on my feet. About 15 minutes seems to be about right. My big exertions today were grocery shopping and walking to and from Starbucks, and that was probably too much. The main issue with the groceries is lifting stuff (my husband emptied the trunk, which helped). When I overdo it, my heart starts thumping more than normal and it feels like I'm walking up a steep hill, even though I'm just taking a short walk on a perfectly flat sidewalk. If I stay off my feet, I don't notice anything wrong.

My West Coast trip for Thanksgiving is still under review.

Tiger mom snoozes

Here's some of what's happening:
  • C got her first issue of National Wildlife today. It was a favorite of my childhood--my great-grandma had steamer trunks full of magazines, and National Wildlife and Smithsonian were my favorites.
  • I also got a preview of C's grades for the quarter. They range between 92 (for math) and 103 (for Latin). There's part of me that wants to go full Tiger Mom and ask, what happened with math?, particularly since C won a math competition at the state fair just over a month ago, but I am restraining myself.
  • We have been suffering temporary disappearances of uniform skirts and lunchboxes, and I am making inquiries into that. The last straw was when we got billed yesterday for C eating an office-provided lunch when I had packed a lunch, it disappeared at school (stuffed into the wrong cubby, I suspect), and then reappeared in time to go back home. I am contesting that bill, because I feel that I have carried out my side of the lunch compact.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Anemic

Here's some of what's happening:
  • I had a bit of a scare this morning (early morning faintness--my husband said I looked greenish) and called the doctor's office at 5:30 AM (after calling 911 and then thinking better of it). I had an early morning appointment with my doctor, a blood test, and have been diagnosed as anemic. I have lots of pills to take but I'm not sure how quickly to expect results and I'm supposed to see my doctor in about 5 or 6 weeks. I feel short of breath like a too ambitiously corseted 19th century heroine and can only spend short stretches on my feet. I have travel plans for later this month, so I'm not sure how that is going to work (as my family's plans evolved, they came to involve me and C waiting at SeaTac for 4.75 hours for an auntie to fly in from Denver, and then to drive with her). This is all going to have to go under review. There are a number of options to consider, but I'm more than tempted to just bail on the whole thing.
  • In real estate news, the $220k mostly original 1900 sq. ft. 1930ish house that I saw recently has now been cut down to $200k. That is quite gratifying.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Four weeks of email

Here's some of what has been happening:
  • I just dug out from four weeks of email. I had replied to a lot of stuff, but anything school-oriented or with dates and times, I hadn't answered. I have no idea how that happened, although my chest cold certainly helped.
  • D has finished reading the last Clifford phonics book. He is getting very fluent. The new math program continues to be a problem, though.
  • Our high today was about 83 degrees Fahrenheit. I was walking around the neighborhood at 8 PM and it was still 75 degrees.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

D on books

Surveying the many bookcases in the family library, D asked his dad if he had read all of the books. My husband replied that that had been under discussion and that there's a plan to thin down our book collection. D said, "I think you will find that you don't need a lot of them."


Saturday, November 12, 2011

4th grade physics

Here's some other stuff that has been happening:
  • Both kids were invited to a birthday party at the local rollerskating rink. D's invitation came first and then C was invited to keep the birthday boy's sister company. We got the birthday boy a raccoon Webkinz and Beyblades set. (As a public service, I should mention my technique for dealing with children's birthday parties. On getting an invitation, I immediately ask the mom what to get the child as a gift and then scrupulously follow those instructions. If there is no reply, we go to the party gift-less, but with clear consciences. I'm not going to get some child something he won't appreciate or already has a million of.)
  • I cleaned and vacuumed our car.
  • C's 4th grade science is getting serious. C is generally very good on the vocabulary type stuff, but occasionally has trouble with the actual problems. Here's a test problem C missed: "The formula for calculating work is Force X Distance = Work. How much work was done to move if Mr. M [the science teacher's husband] used 50 N of force to move a washing machine 10 feet." C added the 50 and the 10, I regret to say, but she fixed it at home. C missed the following problem from a worksheet (there's a picture of a car with both a rocket helping it forward and a a parachute holding it back): "A rocket applies an additional force of 10 Newtons to the 10 Newtons that are applied by the wheels. Add force arrows to the picture assuming that the parachute continues to apply 7 N of force in the opposite direction. What is the new combined force (net force) and direction?" This is probably the place to confess that while I have seen this sort of problem, it was in 11th grade.
  • As I've said before, 4th grade is hard.

Another $220k house

I went to see a for sale by owner house this morning. Here we go:
  • It's one story, 2850 square feet, was built in the late 1940s, and has exactly 3 bedrooms and 2 full baths. To me, the floorplan feels more early 1950s than late 1940s, but I guess they were just ahead of their time. There's one bedroom with a huge closet, and the other two bedrooms have typical pre-1950s closets.
  • It's been listed for sale off and on for two years before going for-sale-by-owner. The price has gone from $240k to $220k.
  • The owner (a 60-something man) lives there by himself and wants to downsize.
  • The bedrooms are large, but otherwise nothing else in the house feels particularly large. I'm not sure how it adds up to 2850 square feet.
  • One bedroom has a big closet and a dressing area that could be converted into an office for my husband.
  • There are no "extra" rooms (no second living area), which is what I was expecting from such a big house.
  • The kitchen has a large pantry.
  • The house is 90% updated. The exception is one of the two bathrooms, which has regrettable green and brown tile and wallpaper. The rest of the house is fine as is.
  • The kitchen is quite nice (hand-carved corbels, white tile backsplash, island, etc.). There's a breakfast area off the kitchen with a washer and dryer hidden behind cabinets.
  • There's a formal dining room.
  • There's a medium-sized deck with jacuzzi, and outdoor speakers. Party!!! (Not sure that's exactly my style, but somebody will like it.)
  • There's no garage, but there's a car port and a small storage building. A previous owner used the small storage building as housing for their maid, although there isn't any plumbing (!!!). That's another possible office for my husband. There's still the question of workshop. I guess I should have asked to see the storage building to see what functions it would be most suitable for.
  • The landscaping isn't Versailles, but it's nice, and there are built-in planters attached to the front of the house. My grandparents' house in Washington has that, and I've always liked it.
  • The driveway desperately needs resurfacing. The way it is now, there's no way the kids could scooter safely on it.
  • This isn't a deal breaker, but this house has that now-extinct style of brick work where the mortar oozes out in big blobs.
  • The house is on an important (but not super busy) street. I'd ideally like something on a more interior street, but this one doesn't feel as busy as I thought it would. The only thing is, you wouldn't get much use out of the front yard.
  • There's enough square footage to work with that I think we could probably put in built-ins with a combination of cabinets and bookshelves.
What do I think? I would really prefer a 4th bedroom to having 3 bedrooms. It is a lot of house for the price, while not being the sort of all-too-common house where you can accidentally lose family members--it just doesn't have that rabbit hole feel to it. There's a 1920s cottage four blocks away for the same price that is 900 square feet smaller, but this is a lot more house for the money. We would not be offering $220k, though.

All in all, this house looks like a realistic option if nothing turns up near campus by the spring.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Apple muffins

My husband made some delicious apple muffins. D liked them, except for the apple part. Similarly, D likes my husband's blueberry muffins, except for the blueberry part.

I was hoping for some variety, but it looks like we're going to be back to pumpkin muffins.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Christmas photobooks II

We ordered the special big format photobook for my relative last night and picked up our nine freshly-printed photobooks this evening. So, that's a big chunk of Christmas done.

Today was more or less wasted. I've got a chest cold with a bit of nasal congestion and I decided to cancel my engagements for today and just take a sick day. Then I had a brief, unrelated TMI medical thing, got a last-minute doctor's appointment this afternoon (which required furious schedule juggling), and was ultimately pronounced quite well. On the one hand, I felt like the little boy who cried wolf, on the other hand, I didn't accidentally want to collect my Darwin Award. So, all is well that ends well. I may take another day off tomorrow. My email is very much in arrears.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Christmas photobooks

November is upon us, so my husband and I have been working on the yearly photobook that we give to the adults in our family for Christmas. I always wonder if we have enough photos (because I personally don't take any), but we started with nearly 1500 raw photographs. Now, a lot of those were from the kids' digital cameras, especially D's. D documents almost every serious Zoob or LEGO or block project that he creates, so we devoted a couple of pages to the kids' projects. My husband and I whittled the photographs down to around 150 photographs (or something like that) and he worked on red eye and cropping. Then (after some shopping around) he uploaded the photographs to Walgreens and we worked on it much of yesterday evening, placing the order for eight 22-page photobooks right around midnight. We will do a one-off version (hopefully tonight) for a relative with some vision loss. Her copy will have fewer photos, but there will only be one picture per page. According to Walgreens, the first run of photobooks should be waiting for us at our local pharmacy this afternoon. We normally do this project over Thanksgiving weekend, but I'm going to be unavailable, so we needed to start earlier.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Japanese rice bowls

As a follow-up to that last post on hoarding, I just got four new blue-and-white patterned Japanese rice bowls in the mail.

Secret Lives of Hoarders

I've finished reading Matt Paxton's book The Secret Lives of Hoarders (2011). Paxton is an organizing expert on A&E's show Hoarders, the show where a team of experts and relatives go in to do an intervention with a hoarder. Here are some notes. Direct quotes will be in bold or in quotation marks.
  • Paxton describes a Stage 1 hoarder's home. "Their house was cluttered--but not the stereotypical place that one associates with classic hoarders like Margaret. There were piles of clothes, toys, papers, and mail that looked like someone meant to get to them a few weeks ago but had gotten distracted. The telltale sign of hoarders-in-training: The piles were in every room." That's really insightful and chilling.
  • Hoarding isn't about how much stuff a person has. It's about how we process things. Most people can easily make decisions about what to keep and what to toss or donate, and then they follow through. A hoarder can't.
  • Everyone has a junk drawer that holds odds and ends of stuff. When that junk drawer becomes a junk room, it's a signal that you are moving up to another stage. Or if a major appliance like a dishwasher or air conditioner hasn't been working for several months because it's difficult to get to it for repair, it is most definitely a sign of a Stage 2 hoarder.
  • A Stage 2 hoarder begins to withdraw from friends and family. As a substitute, he or she begins to acquire more things to fill that void, and the cycle continues in earnest. As the hoarder brings home more items, managing those takes priority over personal relationships. At this point, the hoarder begins to shift from embarrassment to justification, explaining why he or she "needs" the possessions.
  • Stage 3 hoarders are losing track of their personal care--bathing and haircutting aren't a priority. Because kitchens at this stage are often borderline functional, Stage 3 hoarders tend to eat food that's been cooked/reheated in the microwave oven or fast-food takeout. This almost always causes weight gain. For Stage 3 hoarders, physical activities are often limited.
  • The Stage 4 hoarder begins to retreat to a small area of livable space in the house--a "cockpit" where the hoarder spends most of his or her time. The hoarder probably doesn't do laundry...A hoarder at this stage may bathe at the sink or not at all. Hoarders have pretty much stopped following societal rules at this stage.
  • Margaret is a Stage 5 hoarder, which is as bad as it gets. There is major structural damage to the house, with severe mold, strong odors, bugs, rodents, and cobwebs taking over. Entire floors of the house might be completely blocked off. There are walls of clothes or other items in every room. The hoarder spends the entire day struggling to complete simple tasks like eating, sleeping, and going to the bathroom. Diet is generally limited to soft drinks and either fast food or now-expired generic brand food that was bought on sale.
  • Depression is often so severe for a Stage 5 hoarder that he or she struggles to get up each day. A hoarder at this stage is often confused, perhaps saving items for people who are no longer living. Hoarders at this stage don't leave the house, with the exception that some may move to their cars or a homeless shelter to sleep.
  • Like almost every hoarder with whom I've worked, Candace also showed signs of what I now know to be clinical depression...
  • Hoarders aren't slobs who don't care about being clean. They are people struggling with overwhelming emotional issues. A pile in a hoarder house isn't a pile of stuff; it can be many things: a pile of sadness, a pile of quitting, or sometimes even a pile of hope. It's never really about the stuff, hoarders are just confusing their possessions with their emotions.
  • Whatever the triggers that set off the hoarding may be, or whatever boundaries and limits with which the hoarders wrestle, almost every person I've worked with has been fixated either on the future or the past. It's so much easier than living in the present, because the present can be awfully depressing.
  • Researchers also know that hoarders often have other identifiable medical issues, including dementia, obsessive compulsive disorder, and depression. But they're still figuring out if the other diseases lead to hoarding or if hoarding triggers them.
  • Some experts argue that addicts never change their personalities; they just substitute healthy addictions for unhealthy ones.
  • Therapy is a critical part of staying clean for advanced hoarders...
  • Paxton urges hoarders to go off credit as part of their recovery.
  • I've always believed that a hoarder house is a house full of quitting. To make a change, the hoarder has to stop quitting and start trying.
  • Without professional follow-up therapy, up to 85 percent of serious hoarders will go right back into the behavior. Even with therapy, I see up to half of late-stage hoarders slip back into it.
  • The goal is to help the hoarder find a suitable replacement behavior, which might be a job, volunteer work, a pastime, or a hobby--preferably one that doesn't encourage further collecting.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Making Peace with the Things in Your Life

I was recently reading Cindy Glovinsky's Making Peace with the Things in Your Life: Why Your Papers, Books, Clothes, and Other Possessions Keep Overwhelming You--and What to Do About It (2002). She beats around the bush a bunch, but she's occasionally insightful. Her psychological approach to clutter, while wordy, can offer a unique view of the clutterer's mind. Here are some quotes I liked (direct quotes in bold).
  • Some brains are wired to think mainly on a concrete level. To their owners, the sooner coins and bills are exchanged for davenports and snowmobiles the better. Numbers in a bank book or stock certificates mean nothing, nor do intangible purchases such as college education. Such people tend to become spenders. [I read a lot of personal finance stuff, and I think this is a really brilliant insight into why so many people cannot seem to grasp the concept of saving.]
  • Spenders are often broke and almost always have too many Things to fit into their homes, no matter how palatial, including the latest, fanciest organizing equipment and books. You don't have to be rich to be a spender, at least not in modern Western culture; it isn't a matter of your income but of what proportion of it goes into purchasing physical objects. And anyway, spenders buy most of their Things on credit, which, in their minds, is the same as getting them for free, since credit is intangible, and therefore unreal. Needless to say, spenders may experience clutter problems on their way to bankruptcy. [I've personally wondered how well our human minds are equipped to deal with the concept of money. The virtue of such things as the traditional envelope system is that it takes the budget (a very abstract, arbitrary concept in our age of practically unlimited credit) and brings it down to the concrete level. When the money is getting low in the envelopes, you slow down spending, and when it's gone, you stop.]
  • Glovinsky contrasts these people with those she calls "philosophers." "The Things philosophers buy are few, though the Things they get rid of are also few, as they fail to notice that the Things are piling up around them, and are constantly forgetting where they left them. Thus, philosophers can have clutter problems just as severe as spenders can, but the difference is that their clutter tends to be dingier and covered with stains."
  • The fact is, almost any psychiatric DISORDER is likely to create disorder with Things.
  • The erroneous belief that any reasonably intelligent human brain is supposed to be able to deal with Things easily has wreaked havoc in people's lives throughout history.
  • Grief is a kind of emotional time lag in which your attachments fail to keep up with the speed of change. The train your body is on has moved out of the station while your soul is left standing on the platform. When you feel that part of you has been left behind, it's normal to want to hang on to Things that you associate with your past.
  • Throughout most of history, people have explained behavior purely in terms of angels and devils. Originally, these angels and devils were literal, but more recently they were replaced with human angels and devils, better known as moms and dads.
  • SMALL DIFFERENCES IN THE BRAIN CAN MAKE BIG DIFFERENCES IN WHAT WE'RE ABLE TO DO AND WHO WE BECOME.
  • People with visual memory glitches often try to compensate by keeping as many Things as possible in full view. If you look in their closets, drawers, or filing cabinets, they'll be three-quarters empty. But keeping belongings visible by leaving them out works only if you have a great deal of space and very few Things. Usually this approach results in the vast majority of your possessions being buried under Thing mountains where they're just as invisible as they would be inside containers.
  • Research has revealed multiple biological causes of underactivity, involving neurotransmitters, hormones, immune cell count, and other bodily entities as affected by stress, burnout, and negative conditioning of the "learned helplessness" variety.
  • Brains, like bodies, get tired.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Roomba

Here's some of what's happening:
  • D changed our Roomba battery under his dad's supervision.
  • D is reading! Fluently! He's just about to finish the level 6 Clifford phonics books.
  • C is reading the Warriors series of cat books. Her chum has been lending her copies.
  • This morning I made a brief appearance at D's field trip to a big city park, fortified myself with Starbucks, then walked my favorite early 20th century neighborhood, looking for for sale by owner homes that haven't made it onto the internet. I had a good stiff hike, but didn't find anything. I'll try again in the early spring.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

House visits

I saw two houses this morning with a realtor. Here's what I saw (while I still remember).
  • The first house is $220k. It's on a well-known street, it's 1900 sq. ft., and it was built at the very beginning of the 1930s. There are three bedrooms and two baths. The lot is narrow and deep, and the homeowners had room for a big trampoline and playset in the back. There's also an old-timey garage with a small separate work room that I think my husband would love. The house itself is cute, but/and basically originally--they've mainly just painted. The kitchen looks original. I think the flow of living room, dining and kitchen is very good. There is a small out-of-the-way corner with built-in bookshelves that would make an excellent office for my husband. I like the house and I think I can imagine us there, although I wonder where we'd put all our books, and I expect that the kids' Disney Dance Dance Revolution stuff would be out of place in the formal living room. I can imagine buying the house, but not for $220k.
  • The second house is $205k. It was also built at the very beginning of the 1930s and it is 2100 square feet with three bedrooms and two baths. It's on a quieter street than the previous house, but within sight of one of the busiest streets in town, and it's across the street from an Episcopalian church. It's on a smaller lot than the first house and there's barely any backyard and no garage. The interior of the house has been seriously worked over. There's a big remodeled kitchen (were those IKEA cabinets?) and a large master bedroom and bath addition at the back with vast closets. We'd be able to fit our book collection comfortably into the master bedroom, maybe even a treadmill. Aside from the master suite, the floor plan is very similar to the house I saw first today, with the same progression from the front door: living room, dining, kitchen. There's room for a biggish table in the kitchen. There's also a small family room/media nook area not far from the kitchen.
Between these two houses, it's a very tight race. On the other hand, visiting these just-big-enough houses does help clear up that great mystery, why do people buy McMansions? These two houses are very cute, but I found myself thinking, if only there was one more room! Just an office (with doors) for my husband or some place to put a treadmill or an extra bedroom--just one more room! Or two! Or three! And then the $220k rambling 2900 sq. ft. house that I'm going to see in a few days starts looking like a brilliant idea. Now, the truth is that in 10-15 years, my husband and I won't need anything like 2900 square feet, but meanwhile, it would be nice to be able to spread out a bit. And that, my friends, is how it happens.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

November real estate report

Here are the houses under $300k that I know of that are currently for sale in the early 20th century neighborhood I watch. I put the ones I like in bold. Here we go:
  • $252k (I saw this one)
  • $250k (I saw this one)
  • $220k (I'll see it soon)
  • $220k (I'll see it soon)
  • $205k (I'll see it soon)
  • $178k (I saw this one)
  • $170k (marginal location)
  • $170k (cute renovated 1920s house plus dubious additions)
  • $124k (estate sale, nothing has been done to the house since probably the early 1970s)
  • $96k (very poor location)
There's increasing convergence between our price range and the houses I like. I'd still prefer a house near campus, though.

$205k

I've got another hot option. This one is a nicely done-up 3BR/2BA 2100 square foot 1930 brick cottage in the older neighborhood I watch. Although the house is across from an Episcopalian church, it's on a much less busy street than the two houses for $220k that I mentioned earlier. The church probably generates a lot of traffic at certain times, but whenever I've been there, it's been very quiet. It is, unfortunately, the end of the neighborhood. The street itself is solid, but within two blocks, the neighborhood peters out. Also, there are two homes for sale on that street that have been listed for some time and are priced substantially lower. There's one for $170k (2300 square feet, peak sale price around $240k) and one for $178k (2000 square feet, peak sale price around $190k). I'm going to go look at this one, too.

I had no idea that November was going to be so interesting for real estate.