Adventures in House Hunting

Last weekend, Pete and I began our first afternoon of house hunting together. We looked at three houses in Montgomery County, which is where we’d like to live for under 200k. We’ve already been pre-approved, so we are sticking within our budget and devoting most of our free time to browsing houses on Trulia. We lucked out with an awesome loan officer and a devoted realtor (both who Pete met prior in a business group), so we are excited to begin the hunt for our new abode.

The first house we looked at was a Cape Cod style house in Glenside, PA. The photo online looked quaint and charming (albeit teensy), but in person it was pret-ty depressing. The neighborhood wasn’t very chipper and the house itself was much smaller than we envisioned. The basement was a total downer (see photo for the lonesome computer desk set-up) and had a history of flooding, so we were automatically turned off. Despite stalking the house prior on real estate sites and Google maps, it looked much different in person. Lesson learned, don’t always trust what you see online!

House #2 was a cute home in Abington, which is ideally the area we’ve decided we’d like to live. The owner is a 90-year-old woman who doesn’t really recall when (or if) the major expenses were last updated. It seems as if the electric, roof and heating might not have been replaced since the house was built in the 40’s. One of the main things we loved about this house was its vintage charm. The house was filled to the brim with gorgeous antique furniture that made it a bit easier to imagine ourselves living there. The olive green patterned floor in the kitchen made my jaw drop. The backyard was also quite large and had a nice patio area, which is a total plus. One of the major con’s is that the house has a ton of stucco, wavy plaster walls and popcorn ceilings galore. Lead paint + sanding an entire house filled with textured walls and ceilings = a bit of a nightmare. My gut tells me it might be a bit of a money pit with all of the potential major expenses up front, but we are still keeping it in our minds as a possible contender.

The third and final house we looked at was a disaster unfortunately. Everything was falling apart, the windows were left open (I don’t even want to think about the critters that made a home there) and the place was totally abandoned. This was an eye-opener and made me realize that it would be good to do a drive-by in the future when possible, as to not waste our realtor’s time when the real thing does not live up to the photos.

This is our must-have list for our future humble home:

    • Nice location/safe neighborhood
    • Good schools
    • Roomy backyard
    • At least 3 bedrooms
    • Central A/C (for our critters who need to remain cool)
    • Taxes under $3,500
    • Somewhat move-in ready (not a major TLC job as far as the main structure goes)
    • Near a train station for easy access to Philly
    • A less than 45 minute commute to our jobs

This is our would-be-nice-but-we-can-live-without-it list:

    • Wood floors (can always be added later)
    • Fireplace
    • Basement or attic storage
    • Front porch
    • Garage

Hideous wallpaper, unfortunate carpeting, terrible tiling and outdated kitchens/bathrooms don’t really bother us. I see those types of things as future DIY projects Pete and I can tackle. It’s fun being able to look past some unfortunate decor trends to look ahead and discuss potential makeover jobs we can do together. I look forward to memorizing the aisles of Lowe’s and getting our feet wet with projects and upgrades.

What are some of the things you learned while starting the house hunting process? If you own a home, how many houses did you visit in person before you found “the one?”


Buying our First Home

Pete and I have decided to take a big step and begin hunting for a house to buy. Our goal is to align purchasing a new house with our lease’s end in early July. This means pushing our Italian vacation to another year so we can concentrate on saving for our future home. We have already begun the pre-approval process with a loan officer, who will be giving us an estimate tomorrow of what we can afford to spend. We already have a pretty good idea of what is in our budget, but it’s best to get a professional’s advice so we don’t end up having our hearts set on a house that we can’t afford.

We’ll be saying goodbye to our woodsy apartment in a few months. I’ll miss the flying squirrels the most.

I’m really looking forward to beginning the house hunting process, as exhausting as it may end up being. It will be nice to be able to leave the house without worrying if Betty White’s barking will disturb the neighbors and potentially get us kicked out. I think with more freedom we will be able to better tackle her separation anxiety, because for now, our training efforts have been brought to a standstill. We’re pretty much just taking her with us everywhere or not leaving the apartment at all (which I suppose is good for helping us not have lives so we can save money!).

We are looking to move to Montgomery County, PA. In the next few days, we will be connected with a real estate agent who specializes in our areas of interest. Acronyms like “PMI” and “FHA” meant nothing to me up until this week, so I’ll be sure to blog about the entire process for other house hunting newbies out there. This also means another item on my “30 before 30” list can be crossed off!

Does anyone have any recommendations for blogs that focus on the early phases of purchasing a home? I am addicted to Young House Love, but it would be nice to have a resource that focuses more on the purchasing process and less on the DIY renovations that I’m sure I’ll be asking questions about this time next year.

Valentine’s Day Ramblings

A few days ago, Pete surprised me with flowers he arranged in my favorite colors. I love me some chartreuse and purple.

Annnd, I am now the proud owner of the owl shower hooks I’ve been drooling over for a while now. So cute!

He also recreated the first dinner we ever made together (I just followed him around the grocery store mostly, but I like to pretend I helped by providing moral support).

My gift to him was a handmade book illustrating all of the Valentine’s Day gift ideas I wanted to pursue, but for some reason or another, they all ended up failing. They’re mostly all inside jokes, but I figured I’d share some of the images with you guys anyway.

How did you celebrate Valentine’s Day this year? We watched a marathon of The Cosby Show and ate ice cream at home…pretty big thrill seekers. Anyway, thanks to Pete for being my lovah and making me smile lots. You are my (very pale and freckled) Heathcliff.

Happy Birthday, Pete!

Today is Pete’s 24th birthday, so, like the total lunatic that I am, I decided it would be a good idea to blow up dozens of balloons last night. I thought it would be cute to get up in the middle of the night, put all the balloons out on the floor (they were hiding in closets) and hang the “happy birthday pete!” banner I made to surprise him with in the morning. Getting my arse out of bed at 4am was not an easy task, considering it was 64 degrees in our apartment…yeah, for some reason our heat decided to malfunction last night. I tried my best to sneak out of the bedroom like a ninja so Pete wouldn’t notice, but he jolted awake as I was leaving. I mumbled something about needing to take some medicine because I felt sick (straight up birthday B.S.) and I scampered into our kitchen area.

I quietly started to unload the dozens of balloons from the closets and began hanging the banner. I had planned to hang streamers, but Cadbury, the bitchiest of our three rabbits, decided it would be the perfect time to stomp her feet in her cage as. loud. as. humanly (or bunny-ly). possible. I had to run back inside the bedroom because I could hear Pete loudly sighing and I didn’t want the surprise to be ruined. I was greeted by a “What the eff is going on?” inside the bedroom and I mumbled something in hopes that Cadbury would soon be done having her bunny tantrum. Not so much. She stomped (and by stomped I mean STOMPED) for at least an hour. 5am rolled around and our upstairs neighbor was waking up and doing his morning ritual, which we can hear in its entirety because the walls are thin. Any hope of getting back to sleep was quickly dwindling away.

I decided it would be a good idea to move Cadbury’s cage to our back room so we wouldn’t have to hear her being a stompy beyotch. This seemed like a smart move, until during my walk through the balloons, Cadbury decided to kick a ginormous amount of bunny turds from her litter pan onto the kitchen floor. Pete said he could hear the poop scatter across the floor from inside the bedroom…imagine dropping a bag of mini, poop-covered marbles everywhere. Awesome. So, I tried my best to gather all the little bunny poops that were hiding beneath the balloons all over the place. Being barefoot at the time was not an enjoyable experience, as I ended up stepping on one too many bunny poops. Not fun.

Eventually, I flopped back in our arctic bed (after making sure my feet were clean, ick). I felt awful that I was making Pete (who should have been having fluffy rainbow birthday dreams) lose hours of sleep because I wanted to surprise him with some birthday flair. Le sigh.

Speaking of rainbows, when I asked Pete what type of cake I could make him for his birthday, he requested a funfetti cake with lemon frosting. I found a funfetti recipe (from scratch!) on this blog and I tried to make the cake decorations as girly as possible.

These are the ingredients for the Funfetti cake recipe, alongside a bunny cookie jar my Grandma handed down to me (I am so super lucky that my grandparents loved bunnies too).

The ingredients for the lemon-y frosting Pete requested.

Happy 24th, Pete! Next year I promise not to make you lose hours of sleep or have a balloon-hiding bunny turd scavenger hunt in the wee hours! I hope it ended up being a fun birthday, despite the major ninja fail on my part!

Home Sweet Home

You might have noticed things look a bit different around here. Thanks to the help of my lad Pete, I’ve transferred my blog to a WordPress format. There’s been a lot of change around this neck of the woods, so I figured revamping the blog was fitting. Pete and I have moved in together in our rustic abode, set way back in the middle of the woods in rural Bucks County.

Living here is so much different than Philadelphia, but the change is a welcome one and the city isn’t far. We’ve begun naming the critters that roam these woods, like Chuck the woodchuckle and Pete and Shannon,  the cute blue heron couple (no one said we’re creative with name-giving).

Thanks for stopping by the new digs, be sure to save this as your new bookmark, or refresh your Google Reader with

A change is gonna come

Almost home.
It’s been a while since I’ve posted because this year has been nonstop change. I have a ton of hope for the future and even more change coming. This week brings moving into a new place, where I can’t wait to capture stray bats and create memories with my favorite person (and Betty White).

In other news, my chipmunk wall art is now on sale at Urban Outfitters. Be sure to check it out online or find it at a store near you.