February 28, 2012

Hemmorhaging Money

I knew that buying a house would mean spending more money that I am comfortable with (sorry, I'm frugal almost to a fault). But I have felt like I've been bleeding money for the past six months!

First was a deposit, which we paid in two installments. Then we starting buying stuff. Our builder does have a standard set of items that you get to choose from; instead, he has allocations for each item and we got to choose our items as we wished. Anything that we purchased on our own would be credited back to us at closing, so we started purchasing a few items when there were sales, since we were approaching the holiday season.

We bought pendant lights, a sink and then the big one - appliances. My husband is a veteran and was able to get a discount (on top of sale prices) on our appliances, so we couldn't pass up the opportunity to get $4,000 worth of appliances for $2,500. It was funny to think we owned appliances before we even owned a house to put them in, but the store let us schedule our delivery as far into the future as possible.

Now we just have to look forward to the true bloodletting when we go to closing. The thought of laying out a good chunk of my life's savings  and still having a huge 30-year debt is killing me! I have been debt-free for years, and it is honestly freaking me out.

How did you feel when you bought your first house? Are you as daunted by the whole idea of a mortgage as I am?

February 24, 2012

On a Rollercoaster in a Whirlwind

I realize my blog has been sadly silent for months now. Well, it is all for a good reason (or at least I'm hoping so!). Mr. Uncommon and I have been house shopping for over a year. Last summer, we gave up the house hunt and went under contract to build a house [insert freakout face here]. Little did we know what we were getting into.

The neighborhood is one that we were familiar with all along. It is a redevelopment revitalization project in a part of town that used to be pretty undesirable because of run down aesthetics and the unsavory characters that used to frequent the area. However, the location is totally desirable, just a short walk to the city center and train station, a quick drive to the huge State Farmers Market, and still within a walk to one of the city's greenways. It doesn't get much better than that.

Phase I of the project had already been completed. This entailed renovating existing historic homes that were salvageable on an adjacent street. The builder was ready to get started on Phase II, which involved building historically detailed new houses where the city had razed dilapidated, uninhabitable homes years ago.

We were nervous because, well, we were the first. No other houses had been built on that street yet. We didn't have a model home to look at to get a feel for the size and layout. We just had some drawings and floorplans that the builder had already picked out for each lot. We picked the one we liked the most (and could afford without going hungry) and started asking questions.

Our biggest concern was space. All of these houses would be small (by most Americans' standards), on small lots, and in close proximity to neighbors. We wanted to maximize our storage options and privacy while maintaining the small scale and affordability. So we worked with the builder to create a shower under the stairs, move some walls, raise the roof (literally), and build in as much storage as we could into every nook and cranny possible. This process took a couple of months.

Once we had things as efficient as we could get, we signed a contract and started the process of waiting. We knew that the holidays were fast approaching, and we expected that there would be plenty of bumps along the way. No one told us we would be on an emotional roller coaster inside what felt like a whirlwind.

Have you ever had a say in how your house would be designed? Would you trade an unfinished storage space under the stairs for a small bathroom? Would you ever buy the first (yet to be built) house in a neighborhood if the location was awesome?

July 24, 2011

On Hiatus

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that I haven't been keeping up with the blog. I've spent a lot of time trying to create some jewelry for my ArtFire studio, which left me with little time to blog. Lately I've been really uninspired to make anything, or to write anything, so everything has come to a screeching halt!

I made three sales on ArtFire despite not advertising, so that was nice. I don't really think that ArtFire had any real hand in the sales that I did make, since two were referrals from family and one was due to keyword search.

I was using a free basic account on ArtFire since I did not have many items to sell. ArtFire recently announced that they are making a lot of changes to the site, including eliminating basic seller accounts. In other words, in order to keep my shop, I will need to "upgrade" to a pro account, which costs $10/month. They used some lame excuse about the new shop design not accommodating ads to justify the change. Well, I just can't justify paying $10/month since this is not something I do full-time.

So, it looks like my ArtFire shop will be closing as of September 13. I haven't decided whether or where I will move to another online storefront at this time. I might just have a lot of new necklaces and earrings added to my personal jewelry collection.

Ah well, it was fun while it lasted!

July 23, 2011

Nostalgia Around Your Neck

I have vivid memories of summer camp as a kid. I didn't go to "sleep away" camp like so many other kids did, but there was a county park near my house that had a day camp that my sister and I would sometimes attend.

I remember on those super hot, humid Florida summer days, the joy of an orange soda and arts and crafts time inside the park's community center. We would fashion birdhouses out of popsicle sticks, tie-dye our t-shirts, and of course, make lanyards and keychains. The counselors would give us the plasticky cord and we'd go to town until we had something like this:

So when I saw the Accordion Strands necklace at Anthropologie, something seemed strangely familiar:

That's right, it's a box braid! I was officially inspired and decided to see if I could still remember the technique I learned in summer camp so many years ago. I came up with this:

I'm currently working with narrower ribbons on another box braid project. I'm not sure yet what it will be, but it's going to take a while!

April 23, 2011

Vintage Graphics Goodness

I really love old and vintage images, because they often have a detail and aesthetic that is not found much in modern print. I'm often inspired by vintage images, and I stumbled across an amazing source of free images - Karen at The Graphics Fairy.

A great example of some of the graphics you can find on Karen's blog is this adorable nest: *The Graphics Fairy*: Vintage Clip Art - Gorgeous Nest with Eggs & Ivy

She sometimes generates a few different versions of the graphics, perfect for use in craft projects!

The Graphics Fairy also has a page of blog backgrounds for use in Blogger - and they are free! I've used one as my blog background, which I love.

Recently, Karen added two more blogs to her world: one for DIY projects and other for crafts others have created, all using the graphics that she has posted on her site. Absolutely wonderful stuff here, and so inspiring. I have a long list of images I can't wait to find the time to use!

April 22, 2011

Home Decor from Your Recycling Bin

In the spirit of Earth Day, I found this blog post with a great DIY on how to make some cool decor accessories out of stuff you can find in your recycling bin. I love figuring out how to make really cool (and super expensive) things that I see but can't afford.

The Evolution of Home: Ballard Designs Knockoff Pears Big Enough To Choke...

Now I just need to save up some plastic bottles, considering that the recycling just went out last night...

Oh yeah, and an actual house of my own to decorate would be nice, too!

April 2, 2011

It's a Match!

I finally finished the project I was working on, took photos, and edited them. This is the first matching set that I've made with chandelier style crystals. I didn't have a plan for the rose colored crystals when I bought them, they just looked pretty, and I like using acrylic crystals because they are lightweight. You can use more crystals in one piece because they won't be heavy or uncomfortable, and they are especially good for earrings.

When I received the aqua Czech glass beads, I had one of those light bulb moments, and I knew I would be using them with the rose crystals. I decided that I wanted to create a cluster pendant as the focal point of the necklace instead of using the crystals as the focal point. I wire wrapped everything for a secure finish. The earrings were a given when I decided I only wanted to use six crystals in the necklace. Here they are!

handmade crystal earrings, rose, pink, aqua

handmade crystal earrings, rose, pink, aqua

handmade matching rose crystal earrings and necklace

handmade rose chandelier crystal necklace

handmade rose chandelier crystal necklace

handmade rose chandelier crystal necklace