Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Long Overdue Update

I haven't had as much time to blog lately as I would like. Between moving, getting settled into our new place, visiting parents, and everything else, its just slipped through the cracks. So I figure its time for a much overdue update.

We are finally in the house and settled. I managed to get much of the decorating I wanted to do done, but there are still a few small project here and there to tackle. And then, of course, we still need to paint. So its coming along but is still a work in progress.

We had a great time when Sean's parents came to visit. Spent a lot of time driving around and showing them some new places in Oregon. Even had the chance to take my father in law down to Eugene and show him the UofO sports buildings. He's a big sports fan (and a HUGE UCLA fan) and is always interested in seeing that kinda stuff. He was very surprised to see Autzen was so far away from campus. I was also able to take them and show them the Alpha Chi house at UofO (both my inlaws were greek). It brought back some crazy memories of growing up down there and driving through that part of town. The Alpha Chi house was always my favorite one on the campus... I guess it was destiny. :)

Anyways, so it was a good visit. Then a few weeks ago I went down to Eugene for my birthday and spent the day with my mom. I managed to find a new bridesmaid dress at David's, as well as a dress for a wedding I'm going to in November. I'm really nervous about the dress, as it is JUST BARELY long enough. So if ANYTHING is off when it shows up then it will be too short. Keep your fingers crossed for me. Its not guaranteed to be in until October and then doesn't give me much time for plan B should it be too short. This is the new dress...

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Decoration Inspiration Part 3 - Home in Progress

So on Monday we will finally have our house keys!  So Sean and I started doing some shopping this weekend. Since I had some time, I thought I would share what we finally settled on for our master bedroom.

So everything is going to be black and white. I still want to add a punch of color, but I have not decided what color just yet. Anyways, on Friday we went to a local furniture store and picked out our bedroom furniture, some decorations, a sofa, and a set of coffee tables. This is the bedroom set we decided on:

We bought 2 night stands, the bed, and the dresser with mirror. I originally purchased this bedroom set as well, but Sean wasn't crazy about it, so we canceled it. Instead we went to Macy's and picked out this bed set.


I also picked up two of this mirror for the bedroom:

Finally, today I went and picked out a bathroom set for the bedroom.  I had a hard time finding something that stuck with my black and white theme, especially since there were others I really like that would completely have not gone. So, after several stores, I finally settled on this set:

So that's it, the master bedroom and bathroom. I think I'm going to save everything else for one we are in and decorated. This has been so much fun and I can't wait to get in and see what everything is going to look like. Pictures of the house when finished to come!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Home Buying in the Burbs Part 4

So the latest on the house is that we will NOT be signing tomorrow as we had planned.

This time there is a problem with the appraisal report (which I'm not sure why they didn't catch it 2 weeks ago when they got it) and the underwriter has requested some changes. So we get pushed back again. We are still not sure when we will sign now, though the loan processor has stated we should ask for an extension until the 30th.

This has me freaked out. We have everything in place to move next week, including having much of our apartment packed up and in general disarray. On top of that, we have family coming into town to visit in 2 weeks and our apartment is in no condition for visitors, so hopefully we will still have time to move before they get here. If we can't move next week, I don't know what I am going to do.

This whole thing has taught me a lot of valuable information that I would definitely pass on to any first time home buyer:

1) First, and most importantly, GIVE YOURSELF TIME. You may not get the first place you love (or even the second or third) and banks are not completely reliable. If you are living somewhere that you know you need to be out of by a specific day, give yourself a few months to find a place and a few months to close. You don't want to end up homeless and the bank only works during business hours.

2) Even if the first bank you go to has a great mortgage broker and the loan sounds like what you need, SHOP AROUND. This was the biggest mistake Sean and I made and it has cost us about $8,000 so far. We went with the first place to approve us and didn't look into our other options. Sometimes, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

3) If you are unsure, uncomfortable, or just plain don't know something, ASK QUESTIONS. Things change every day in the housing/mortgage industry, and your mortgage broker or realtor may assume you know something. Speak up for yourself and asks questions. Don't worry about being annoying or asking what you think is dumb question. There are no dumb questions and these people are working for you now, so if you are going to spend that much money, they should be available to answer any questions you have. If they aren't, find someone who is.

4) Until you are in the title office signing the paperwork, everything can change, so BE FLEXIBLE. We have had to make plans, reschedule, and then reschedule again a few times. The bank works on its own time and (at least the one we are working with) doesn't like to make sure they are thorough the first time. So at any time something could change and get pushed back. Be prepared for things to change and don't plan any major events (or visits from out of town family) too close to when you are suppose to close.

Hopefully someone else will read this and learn from our mistakes. I'm sure the home buying process doesn't have to be this stressful. If we had known this stuff in advanced, maybe it wouldn't have been.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Extreme Couponing

Over the weekend, while visiting my mom down in Eugene, we discovered a marathon of a TLC show called Extreme Couponing.

At first, my husband and I both were watching it thinking "Wow, these people are crazy. Who needs so much stuff?"

Then it turned into "There's no way this could work in Oregon. Stores don't let you double coupons like that."

Finally, it turned into "You know, maybe we need to start clipping coupons again. I know we will never save THAT kind of money, but it would be good to save some."

So when we got home yesterday, I went online and signed up for a couple of the online coupon services. I also did a little research and made a shopping list of places I wanted to go for our weekly shopping trip. I'm not extreme, but it's always good to save a little money right?

Do you coupon? Any tips of the trade for a newbie?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Sister Wedding Update Part 2

So after a few months of waiting, my dress finally came in.

I was so excited because I've never had a long dress (outside of my wedding dress), so being able to wear a formal dress that was long enough was very exciting for me.

I got to the store and went to try on the dress, only to find out that it was STILL to short. Even with extra length my ankles were still very visible.

So now I have to find another dress. On the up side, I'm the only bridesmaid, which means I can pick whatever dress I want from any dress designer I want. I've been looking around the web and have found a few dresses I like, including one I was looking at when she first got engaged.

I love this dress. I love everything about this dress. My only concern is that I can't usually do an A-line, so I'm going to start calling around to see if anyone has this dress in stock for me to try on.

I'm a big fan of the one shoulder dress. I do worry that this would make my head look smaller, but again I would have to try it on first.

This one is a lot like the dress I already purchased, so I feel pretty confident that worst case I could order it. The nice thing about this line is that the long dress is a little longer than the one I have, so the additional length should make it long enough.

I was really trying to stay away from a short dress because I would then need to purchase heals. However, this is a great option if I can't find a long dress I like because it's T-Length and I love the neckline. So it wouldn't be my first choice, but is definitely an option.

So that is where we stand right now. Once we get things finalized with the house purchase, I'm going to start making calls around to local shops and see if I can find anyone who has any of these in stock for me to try on. If not, I just go and start trying stuff on. Wish me luck! I'll post pictures once I settle on something.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Dinner: Pork Milanese with Tortellini

My MIL (who happens to be an AMAZING cook and former catering business owner) is an amazing cook. Every time we go to California to visit Sean's family we are well feed. She has passed on many of her recipes to me, but I only make them occasionally because most are, to be totally blunt, not all that good for you.

Sean and I have gotten into the habit of allowing ourselves one splurge meal each week. Either we go out for dinner or I make some that would definitely not fit within the diet we have been trying to follow. Honestly, going this route has made sticking to the diet the rest of the time much easier.

I had this recipe for Chicken Milanese laying around and had been wanting to make it for awhile.  Tonight was finally the night! Only we didn't have any chicken, so I substituted pork.

First up was mixing the seasoning and breading the pork chops.

Next I cut up the veggies for the sauce (tomato and spinach).

The sauce is made of butter, garlic, cream, chicken stock, vermouth, and parmesan.

I pan friend the pork chop, cooked up the tortellini and finished it in the sauce, and we had a delicious dinner! Definitely not "low fat" by any means, but so worth the splurge!

Tomorrow its back to our diet. On the menu: chicken and spinach salad with lots of veggies

Monday, June 6, 2011

Product to Try: Caudalie Instant Foaming Cleanser

So I am OBSESSED with Philosophy Facial products. They have a sensative skin moisturizer called Hope in a Jar, that is TO DIE FOR. It's the first moisturize I've found that doesn't make me break out more and doesn't feel oily on my skin.

I'm also a big fan of their oil-free foaming face wash, On a Clear Day. It's a great, strong cleanser and I love that it's a foam. The ONLY downside that I have ever found with the foam cleanser is that it doesn't fly well. The first time I tried to travel with it, I got to my in-laws house to find out that it had built up pressure in the bottle or something and leaked all over my travel bag.

So when I went into Sephora last week to buy a new bottle, I was DEVASTATED to find out that they were out of it. It took me forever to find a face wash that works well for my sensitive skin (and I'm talking SENSITIVE. I react to everything!). So I got to chatting with one of the employees, who suggested I try another product called Caudalie. I'd never heard of it but she said it was all natural, and I needed face wash, so I decided to give it a shot.

Turns out, this stuff is just as fantastic! It's made with grape extract, chamomile, and sage so it smells fantastic. And my skin feels great! The only thing about it that I don't like, is I have to remember to use my eye make-up remover, because its doesn't have enough strength to get it all off like my old face wash did. But I love the smell and how my skin feels. It's also a little more expensive than the Philosophy at $26.00 for a 5oz bottle (compared to $25.00 for a 6oz bottle of On a Clear Day).

Overall, highly recommend for anyone with sensitive skin looking for a gentle cleanser.

Home Buying in the Burbs Part 3

So over the weekend we got final word that we are, in fact, going to have to put 5% down on the house. The loan we applied for was a 100% financing, but unfortunately they have some extra requirements when buying a condo (which our place technically is). The place has to be "warrantable" which means that the HOA has to meet certain requirements (so much money in reserve, one person can't own more than 10%, not more than 30% can be rentals, etc...). Our place ended up coming back as unwarrantable, so now we have to put a down payment down.

This is both good and bad. It's good because we are taking out a smaller loan and will have some equity in the house right away. It also means that our monthly payment will be *slightly* smaller. It sucks though, because that money was going to be our budget to buy all the new furniture and stuff I had wanted to get.

So basically, now we have to prioritize our purchase. We are definitely getting the bedroom furniture right away. And I fully intend to buy the bar stools and Sean really wants a new TV for his "man cave," which I have agreed to since we can get it from Best Buy and just make payments on it. So basically, I have to wait until the end of July to get a new sofa and anything else we may decide we want to replace.

Today we have our (hopefully) final inspection. We've already put out $375 in inspection fees, and today is going to be another $75. I know buying a house is expensive, but it really gets under my skin that we are spending money we shouldn't have to because the seller didn't fix stuff. Grrrrrrr. Anyways, after this we wait for the appraisal and, if all goes well, we should close soon. We are suppose to get our keys and be done by June 17th. We will see if that happens.