Good Bones Home

We bought our first home together because it has "good bones." Now we're trying to bring them out, one project at a time.

House Hunters October 6, 2010

Filed under: Home — Stephanie @ 4:52 pm

I’ve alluded to the fact that we are about to purchase a new house, but I was a little brief with details while we were going through the mortgage approval process (and oh, what a trip that was). Thankfully, things are squared away, and we are now nine days away from closing! So I wanted to take a little trip back in time and talk about why we decided to take this step now, and how we ended up choosing the home we did.

Rich and I have been living together in a row home he bought about a year before we started dating. Before he bought it, he had actually rented it for six years. So when we moved in together, it made sense to just live there, since I was a renter, and the mortgage on the place was far lower than what it would cost to rent something comparable. But although the house was a decent temporary location, both of us knew it wasn’t the type of place we wanted to be in long term. We dreamed of a yard that was attached to the house, instead of across an alley. We longed for the days when we didn’t share walls with anyone we weren’t related to. We had been talking for a while about moving in 2011, maybe putting the house on the market in the spring and moving at some point during the summer.

So just in preparation, we started paying more attention to the housing market.  We watched home values and interest rates both falling.  And we started thinking, why not now?  Sure, we might have to pinch pennies for a little while to make it work, but buying a house when the interest rates are so low could enable us to save tens of thousands over the course of owning a home.  And the ultra low home values meant we could get more house for our budget, and possibly find something that we could stay in for the next 20 to 30 years.  We decided it didn’t hurt to look.


We took the oldest house hunting advice in the book and made a list of our must haves/like to haves for a potential new home.

Must have:

  • Single family home
  • Yard that can be potentially fenced (or is already fenced).
  • At least three bedrooms
  • At least two bathrooms
  • Good school district
  • Dishwasher
  • Outdoor living space of some sort (porch/deck/patio)
  • Didn’t add more than ten minutes to our current commutes, which are both around 30 minutes.
  • At least 1500 sqft.
  • Central AC.

Nice to have

  • Hardwood floors (but at the least, must be able to remove all the carpet ASAP.  We have a cat with…let’s call it…a litterbox aversion).
  • Four bedrooms
  • Two and a half baths
  • Two car garage
  • Walking distance to restaurants/shopping

So with that list in hand, we set off to look at our very first house.  I picked it out online because it had a great location, walking distance to a downtown area we adore.

What we liked:

  • charming colonial architecture
  • the amazing location
  • great school district
  • hardwood floors throughout
  • cozy and great layout

What we didn’t:

  • only one full bathroom
  • yard was unfence-able based on the driveway layout
  • no dishwasher or space for one
  • no outdoor living area
  • at the very top of our price range

We crossed this one off the list, but now we had the house hunting bug bad.

What made you decide to buy a house?


Fall TV, part 1 October 4, 2010

Filed under: TV — Stephanie @ 8:14 pm

The first few weeks of September are a magical wonderful time of year. TV premiere season! I am, without a doubt, a TV junkie. Rich and I have way too many shows to count that we watch, thank goodness for our DVR. Here’s our lineup.

Ravens and Eagles football all day. Often results in us fighting over the remote and trying to record both games so we don’t miss any plays.
8 pm – The Amazing Race. An oldie but a goodie. I’ve been addicted to this one since college, and my college roommate Erin and I went as far as to send in an audition video at one point. I love watching the teams travel all around the world, and watching some relationships become stronger while some deteriorate under the pressure and lack of sleep. I guarantee after about the third night of poor sleep, I would become a raging bitch. That’s why Rich and I aren’t on the race. And why we don’t have kids yet.
9 pm – Dexter. I went on a Dexter marathon this summer, watching Seasons 1-4 in a two month span. I can’t believe I was missing this all along! The show is going to have a hard time topping the Trinity plot of Season 4, but I’m excited to see what happens.

8 pm – I have no shame, because yes, I do watch Dancing with the Stars. I mean, come on, could you have resisted this year’s cast of Bristol Palin, the Hoff, and the Situation? I think not. This is a show during which I am eternally grateful for my DVR, as I fast forward through all the clip packages and Brooke Burke’s awkward interviews to get right to the dancing and critiques. So far this season is Jennifer Grey’s to lose. Love her, want to look like her both now and when I am 50.

9 pm – We had great plans to give Lone Star a chance, since it was getting good reviews, and stars Friday Night Lights alumna Adrienne Palecki.  But since Fox canceled this one after only two episodes, looks like we’ve got an extra hour free.


8 pm – Glee!  I love the poppy goodness of this show.  Sure, the plot lines are ridiculous and unrealistic, but pop music!  Showtunes!  Jane Lynch’s comic brilliance as Sue Sylvester!  There’s guaranteed to be at least a few lines every week that make me laugh so hard I have to rewind the  DVR.

8 pm – No Ordinary Family.  We are only one episode into this one, but I’m really enjoying it!  Typical suburban family suddenly finds themselves possessing varying superpowers after a plane crash into a radioactive river in Brazil.  Michael Chiklis and Julie Benz star as the parents, and they’re both immensely enjoyable to watch.   We’ll see how it holds up over the season, but the first episode at least earned it a regular spot in the rotation.

8 pm – Biggest Loser.  I’m being a little misleading here, because it’s true, I can’t actually watch three shows that are on at the same time.  I’ve got a soft spot for the Biggest Loser, as my former roommate and I used to watch this together every Tuesday, and Rich proposed after an episode in March 2009.  I’m trying to figure out how to set up the DVR to record only the second half of the show, because I think I could get by just fine with one hour of fatties instead of two, but week one of that experiment was an epic fail.

10 pm – Teen Mom.  I wish I could quit this show that follows four of the original teens profiled on MTV’s 16 and pregnant.  Actually, no I don’t.  I hope Amber, Maci, Farrah, and Caitlynn never leave my TV screen.  I have no excuse for watching this other than that is is trainwreck TV of the highest order.  Never change, MTV, never change.

I think I’ll break this one up into a two parter, so expect details on the rest of the television masterpieces clogging up my DVR later this week.

What are you watching this fall?


For Sale: An Update September 29, 2010

Filed under: Home — Stephanie @ 1:51 pm

One month in, selling our house has been, to put it mildly, super depressing. We listed it for sale on August 29th. During that time, we’ve had one showing. ONE. And that includes the zero people that came to our open house this weekend.

Not our actual house (source)

I had mentally prepared myself for the fact that it might take a while to sell the house. We went into this whole buying and selling adventure knowing that we could end up carrying two mortgages, living on a very tight budget for a while. And I thought I was ok with that. But, here’s what I wasn’t prepared for – that no one would even look at our house. It’s impossible to sell a house without anyone looking at it.

So here we are, 2.5 weeks away from closing on our new place to become the proud owners of two houses. Two mortgages, two electric bills, two water bills, one giant headache.

I know I should be glad that this is even an option for us, that we have the money for a down payment without selling, which enabled us to put in an offer on this new place, our planned forever home. But I’m just getting more and more stressed as we creep closer to the real estate wasteland that is the holiday season. We’ve already cut the price once and I fear another price drop will just identify us as the desparate sellers we are.

Anyway if you have any good house selling vibes to spare, send them our way, will you?


Half Marathon Training: Weeks 1-3 September 21, 2010

Filed under: 13.1/2010,fitness — Stephanie @ 8:43 pm

I’m now three weeks into my “official” half marathon training plan (and have exactly two months to go until the race!).  Part of me has been seriously regretting this decision.  With our somewhat unexpected change of heart about our time line for buying/selling, our free time has been jam packed, and won’t get any less busy as we hopefully close and move during October.  But the registration fee for the race has been paid, with no refunds or deferrals possible, so I decided I have to stay focused in my training.  Luckily it’s also provided me with a great stress release outlet, and I can let my mind wander to future paint colors while I’m logging the miles.

I’m using a combination of two training plans for this race.  The first one is Hal Higdon’s Novice Half Marathon plan.   I’ll be honest and admit my strength training and cross training have not been up to par, but I am getting in the three main runs a week from this plan.   So far the distances have felt managable, I’m up to a 5 mile max so far that actually felt pretty easy!

Right before I started my official training schedule, a friend recommended another plan, which is found in the book Marathoning for Mortals. I picked up the book and really related to their philosophy of different methods of approaching the race based on your fitness level, the amount of time you have to train, and your physical limitations.  I was already using a rough run/walk interval method for training, so the official run/walk training plan in this book  seemed like a great fit for me.   In this method, you train for a 4 min run/1 min walk interval all the way through the race.  The MfM plan actually requires a bit more time than HH’s plan, so I’m using a hybrid of the two.  I may eventually shift over to using one or the other 100%, but for now I’m mixing together the MfM intervals with the HH distances, and happy with my progress.

My goals for this race are (a) to finish, (b) ideally in under 2.5 hours, and (c) to still enjoy running after this race.

Think I can do it?  Any distance running tips from experts?


Crazy cat stories September 15, 2010

Filed under: Our terrible pets — Stephanie @ 7:04 pm

Still in mortgage approval limbo over here. I can’t wait to have that all taken care of so I can start sharing details of the potential new place. But as a placeholder, please accept two stories about one of our ridiculous pets?

With the house on the market, we’ve been keeping more doors and windows open to keep everything all aired out, and spending more time in some of our less used rooms like the guest room and office cleaning and decluttering them.  Saturday afternoon, after a marathon vacuuming and mopping session, the guest room door was left open.  A little while later I hear Rich call me from upstairs.  “What did you do to Alice?”  I was confused, but headed upstairs to see what he was talking about.  This is how I found Alice.

Can’t find her?  Here’s a handy edited photo:

Yup, she decided to somehow climb up into the bed, get under the quilt, and yet not disturb the rest of the bed at all.  I guess she was comfortable?  She heard us cracking up at her and tunneled her way out, looked at us indignantly, and marched downstairs to stare out the window for a few hours.

I don’t have any photo evidence of this second Alice story, but on Sunday night, she stole some leftovers we had left sitting out on the counter and chowed down.  So, you might be asking yourself what we so foolishly left out that she could not avoid.  Turkey?  Steak?  Fish?  Nope.  An ear of corn on the cob.  Yup.  She chowed down on it so thoroughly that I thought Rich had eaten it.  The cob was picked clean.   Ah, pet ownership.  Never boring.


For Sale September 8, 2010

Filed under: Home — Stephanie @ 1:28 pm

We are still not talking about the future dream home of wallpaper and outdated appliances, even though the inspection went quite well, because talking of such things before you have jumped through the billion hoops of financing can jinx them. But I can tell you this, our little row home, the home we first lived in together, that we came home to after we were married, that my dear husband has been living in for eight years…it is for sale.

Living in a home that’s on the market is a stressful experience. Living there with three of the world’s hairiest pets will drive you off the deep end. We spent a week and a half fixing up our home in every free second, getting it clean and decluttered and beautiful. Now we try and stay ahead of the pet fur and litter and crumbs of food they are tracking everywhere. Of course, all of this is in vain right now, as despite nine days on the market, not one person has looked at our home. I can’t believe it! It’s so pretty!  See?

(all photos from our home’s MLS listing)

Right now we remain fingers crossed that someone will eventually decide to look at our place, fall in love, and take it off our hands, leaving us with only one home and the money to renovate it.  So send us your home selling vibes!  (Or, alternately, if you know anyone in the Philly ‘burbs looking for a place, send them our way.)


An update August 31, 2010

Filed under: Home — Stephanie @ 2:10 pm

Lovely readers (all three of you) I know my posting has fallen off. I have a good excuse though!

We bought a house. Inspection pending. I’m gonna be sparse with details here until things are finalized but ZOMG I LOVE IT.

So, yeah, we have been in a whirlwind of putting our current place on the market, attending the first of 4 weddings in the next month, and obsessively looking at the photos of our (almost) new home. It’s gonna be a project.

Two words: Wallpapered ceilings.

I can’t wait to share all the details with you!