Sunday, December 28, 2008

Staircase

Houston, we have a staircase! It has actually been in for almost 2 weeks, but Ben took a picture on his new phone the day it was installed, so I have not been able to post any. He didn't take any pictures of the process of putting in the staircase, so I have no idea how it looked before it was installed.

The inside is coming together very nicely. It should be done in the next week or 2. Here are a few pictures of the progress:

Picture of the staircase installed. It turned out much smaller than I had imagined from the plans.



View of the stairs from the upstairs loft



View of the how the staircase looks in proportion to the room




And here is a picture of the master bath vanities. There will be 2 mirrors on the wall eventually.




And here is a view of the toilet & tub side of the master bath. Just needs a little more glass tile & plumbing fixtures for it to be done.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Well, crap

There is this new law that goes into effect on February 10, 2009 that creates a standard for lead & phthalates in children's products. It is in reaction to the lead recalls last year in children's toys & jewelry.

I know a little bit about the law because we are dealing with it at work on some of our products because it also sets standards on some adult product as well. I hadn't really thought that much about it because I didn't think it had anything to do with clothing. What little I knew about it, I thought that clothing was excluded....

Remember that business that I am forever talking about starting. Well, we (we being my husband & I) have a plan in place that would allow me to start working on this in the next couple of months. It's a solid plan & I have been very excited as I saw the time when I could begin working on my clothing coming closer & closer.

Today, I was reading one of the designer blogs that I follow. It turns out that the pesky little law designed to protect children is going to make it so that I can not do my business. As the law stands right now, any existing product has to be tested for lead by a "reasonable testing program". The cheapest I found testing for is $200-$300 per style.

And as of August, 2009, all product will have to be tested by an approved 3rd party testing facility. Which is f'ing expensive. Like in the thousands of dollars expensive.

What this means for me, is that the law as it is currently written, will make it cost prohibitive for me to start my business. So that really sucks. I will continue to follow this. As it sounds, people are finally realizing the effect this law will have on manufacturers big & small. So hopefully, there will be changes made so that small business owners are able to sell children's clothing.

But for the time being, I am pissed. I am this close to getting my business started in earnest & now there is a HUGE road block in the way...

Monday, December 8, 2008

Flip Updates

the Victorian after it was sandblasted to remove as much paint as possible


We have made quite a bit of progress on our flips.

The quick one has been on the market for about a month. We had an offer that fell through. The woman lied about being able to be a cash buyer & could not qualify for financing. That was a little unfortunate, but probably a good thing in the end. The house now qualifies for FHA financing (which is a very good thing) and the showings have picked up quite significantly. Here are some more pictures of it done. I never got any before pictures because the contractor started working the same day we closed. And, well, my husband forgot to take some.

The big project has been, well, a big project. It took several weeks longer than planned to get the new furnace installed & passed inspection because the furnace guy booked too many jobs at the same time. And the drywall & texturing has turned in to a bit of a nightmare. The contractor promised he would be able to do all of it in a matter of days. He ended up taking weeks to finish & used more than 3x the materials that he should have. (The contractor is paying for the additional materials, not us.)

So we are a little behind (by about 6 weeks). But our contractor is working hard to get us done as quickly as possible. And really, with Christmas coming, it is probably OK to be behind a little since it wouldn't make a whole lot of sense to put a house on the market right before Christmas anyway.

The good news is that the walls are done; textured & painted. The bamboo floors are in. The travertine tile is going into the kitchen. Lights are all installed. New windows are installed. And the spiral staircase will be ready sometime next week. So things are coming together pretty quickly at this point.

Our camera is having some issues, so I don't have a whole lot of pictures. But I did add some to the group. Sorry that some of them are a little weird to look at.

So what do you think of the progress? Would you want to live there?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Sweaters













I know, I went a month again without posting. More on that later. Since this is supposed to be a blog about me designing, I figured I should post a couple of pictures of some of the stuff I designed recently for work.

If you click on the images, it will direct you to our website so that you can see these bigger.

What do you think?

Monday, October 20, 2008

I am a dork


Hi, my name is Susan & I am a dork. I fully admit it. And I am OK with it. Saturday night we went to see Jackopierce play at the Soiled Dove Underground.

Reason 1 I am a dork: I was that girl at the concert. You know the one. The one who knows all the words & is singing along, dancing around and being silly.

While there was no free beer this time, like last year. (This year we had assigned seats so we could not be center front like last year.) But that was OK. I still had a really amazing seat.

Reason 2 I am a dork: Ben bought me a combination very belated, very early birthday present while we are there. He bought us 2 tickets to concert they are doing in Austin, TX in May. Since I had a pretty crappy birthday this year, you know with my husband being in the hospital & everyone forgetting it, he felt that he needed to make up for it. So we will be celebrating my birthday in Austin, TX next year! Yes, I am that dorky groupie who is going to a different state to see them play.


Reason 3 I am a dork: They closed with one of my favorite songs. It is this Irish blessing & I have not heard them sing it for a decade. The last time I heard it was on their farewell tour where they sang "With or Without You" by U2 & then faded into it. It is the same Irish blessing that helped lead up to the cure for Ben's headache. I of course started to cry. But that's not why I am a dork, I am a dork because we hung around after the concert so that I could get my CD autographed & I thanked them for singing it & why it had so much meaning to me. I am sure they were both thinking, who is this dorky girl?

So that is why I am a dork. But I had an amazing night & I guess that is all that matters, right?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Help!

In exactly 10 days we are supposed to go to a Halloween party... but I do not have a costume to wear. And I can't for the life of me come up with anything. Zip, zilch, nada in the idea area.

The theme of the party is heroes & villains. Ben, of course, will be wearing his costume from last year. I know you are shocked. Even his Halloween costume is Broncos....

But my costume doesn't really fit the theme. I don't know how well it will fit & well, it is kind of generic...

I have been trying for weeks to come up with an idea. Any idea. We even went to the costume store last weekend to get some ideas. And still, I left with nothing. Sure there were super hero costumes for girls like wonder woman or bat girl. And there were witch costumes. But I have this problem, I don't like store bought costumes. My costume from last year is the first store bought costume I have EVER owned. Seriously.

I have always had homemade costumes. Some were more traditional like a witch or a cabbage patch kid, but I was a sack of potatoes one year, and a box of frosted flakes another. So I have this notion that I should make my costume this year. But I haven't a clue what to make.... and it is gnawing away at me.

Any ideas on a hero or villain costume that I can pull together in 10 days???

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Before Pictures


I finally got the pictures downloaded off our camera and started putting them on flickr. (There were over 400 pics on it. Yikes!)

This is what the front of our big flip looks like. Structurally the house was in good shape. It just needs some love to make it look pretty again.

Here is the photo gallery of more before pictures. What do you think?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Something Old, Something New

A few weeks ago a dear friend of mine got married. For her bachlorette party we were asked to bring a gift that fit under one of the categories: something old, something new, something borrowed or something blue.



I had bought this vintage dish towel a few months ago that reminded me of her. When I bought the dishtowel, I was thinking of turning it into something else. So when I found out the theme of the bachlorette party, I knew this would be a great gift.

I wanted to take the towel & turn it into an apron. I looked for some retro prints to use in conjunction with it to stay with the vintage idea, but I could not find any with the right colorway. So I went with a cool indian floral pattern.



And this is how it turned out. Something old, turned into something new.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Stairs

One of the very first things we had to do on our Victorian flip was have a structural engineer come out to help us with the stairs issue.

At some point, previous owners decided to "finish" the attic of the house. And obviously, you would then need stairs to get into the newly finished attic. So they built a staircase in the dining room. Which rendered the room essentially useless because of how much space was left.

So we were challenged with how to improve the space on the main level, but still have a staircase to access the upstairs master retreat. After playing with several different placements, we realized that a traditional staircase would not be feasible. We either lost the dining room or one of the bedrooms. Our only option was a spiral staircase.

I was not happy with the idea of a spiral staircase. My fear was that it would turn buyers off. Who would want to move their belongs up a spiral staircase? But the structural engineer was able to figure out how to get a 5' wide one in without losing hardly any space in the bedroom. And, came up with the idea of putting a staircase on the exterior of the house so that you can easily move your bed & furniture upstairs. Perfect!

Aerial view of what the spiral staircase will be like. The dashed lines to the left are the original staircase.



Profile view of the staircase


The plans made me feel very professional now. Not only do we have blueprints from a structural engineer but we had to have the plans signed off by the city as well. Cool, huh?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

New Flips

I know you are all shocked (all 2 of you that read this), two new posts in two days. I really am trying to get back into the swing of it.

We have 2 flip projects going on right now. One is a "quick" four week project one in the same neighborhood as our last one. All it needs is paint & updating in the kitchen & bathrooms & some minor repairs.

The other one is our BIG project. Right before we found it, Ben commented that he would like to work on a Victorian home. And that he would like to try a project that needs some light structural work. Well, the next week, he found this smoking deal on a Victorian house that had a badly placed staircase. Perfect!

Here are pictures of what the house looked like before we bought it. Warning, some of the pictures might turn your stomach. We bought it from the "we buy ugly houses" people. So they got the lovely job of cleaning all the crap out. We are in the process of completely gutting. We took it all the way down to the studs & are making it clean & beautiful again.


This is the living room


This is the dining room with the badly placed staircase so room is essentially not usable (even when clean)



Obviously, the kitchen. Yum, Spam!



And the stomach turning bedroom. Don't you just want to snuggle down on that bed for a nice long nap?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Did you know?

OK, I know it has been a long time since I posted. What can I say, I am a slacker. Here's a baby step in getting back into the habit of posting.

I got this video a few days ago at work. I found it very interesting to watch. I have no idea how much of it is true, but it all seemed reasonable to me.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Good & Bad

Thursday was both a good and bad day for us. Good because we got an offer on our flip, bad because we had to go to the funeral for Ben's grandma.

Ben's Grandma Dottie was an amazing woman. I did not get to know her very well because since Ben & I have been together, her health has been failing & her memory was pretty much gone. But over the past few weeks I learned so much about her & wish that I had known her better. Dottie was a pioneer for women in the real estate market back in the 60's. She owned her own brokerage when most companies would not even hire women. Every time Ben meets an agent that worked back in the 70's & 80's, as soon as they hear his last name, most will ask if he is related to Dottie.

Knowing how much his grandmother accomplished as an agent and how much she love it, it is no wonder that Ben is such a natural at what he does. It's like he was born to be doing this.

In the midst of all the sadness of the past week, we got a little bit of happiness too. And appropriately so, it came in the form of real estate. On Thursday we got an offer on our flip. And after a little negotiating, it is now under contract. The last couple of weeks have been stressful with it because of the contractor. But in the end it is all good & we will be closing on 7/29. I need to take some final pictures & then I will post them with all of the gory details of what worked & what did not.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Summertime

So Cade has been here for 10 days & I realized that I had not posted a single picture yet. I know, I'm bad.

This picture was taken on Father's Day in Roxborough State Park. We went for a short 1 1/2 mile hike. Cade had a great time, except he was very worried about rattlesnakes. Every time grasshopper made noise, he thought that it was a rattlesnake. After our hike, we headed up to Idaho Springs for buffalo burgers & buffalo dogs.


Ben & Cade also have gotten to go see the Rockies play since he got here. This picture was taken without any zoom. We got the tickets from one of the title companies that Ben works with. Apparently the seats were very close. Too bad the Rockies suck & lost the game.

Cade has also been working very hard on riding his bike. Over spring break we took off his training wheels but he was having a very hard time getting his balance right. Not this time, he got right on & after only an hour or so figured it out. We're working on riding in somewhat of a straight line so that I don't freak out when he is riding down the street.

This video was taken on Father's Day when it finally "clicked" for him. You can't see very well from it, but he has the biggest grin ever. He gets better & better every day.

video

Monday, June 23, 2008

Not-So-Well-Woman

So I went in 2 weeks ago to see my doctor for a checkup. Turns out that I am not in as good of health as I was just a few short months ago. I have managed to gain 13 lbs in 6 months (!), my blood pressure has also gotten higher & my thyroid is enlarged. See, not so good. Not horrible-life-threatening, but not good either.

They ran some blood work to check my thyroid levels and other stuff that can be affected by an off thyroid. Of course, everything came back normal. Even the thyroid levels were normal. On the high end of normal, but normal none the less. So there is nothing "wrong" with me.

What I love is that my new doctor actually talked to me & took the time to help me. She's actually a midwife, not a typical doctor. Normally, a doctor's visit takes what, 15-20 min max. Not mine; she spent over an hour talking to me, finding out what has been going on in my life & then offering real suggestions. She treated me like a real person & used her own experiences to show that she can relate to what I am going through.

In the end, she suggested a plan of action for me that included:
- some lemon balm & Chaste tree to help with my mood swings. So I take a tincture a couple of times a day that has these in it. It tastes pretty nasty, but I can tell a slight difference already only 2 weeks later
- working with a therapist to find better ways to deal with the stress in life. So I have started that too. It's only been a couple of sessions & it is interesting to say the least.
- and then there is the obvious, diet & exercise. But she did not do the one-size-fits-all answer of limit your calories, yada, yada, yada. She listened to what I eat, where my weakness tends to be (starchy carbs) and that I tend to get dizzy sometimes. Then suggested the Zone diet because it limits the carbs & works to keep you on a balanced blood sugar level which will help with the chips/muffins/bread cravings and with the dizziness.

So even though, she was the bearer of some bad news, she helped me see the best of it & give me the tools I need to get back on track. Now, I just have to do it... EEK!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Week 5 of our 4 week flip

OK so I know it has been awhile since I posted. Ben had to go and have surgery again so that kind of threw a wrench in our lives momentarily. He is recovering nicely. We had a new surgeon & a new hospital do the repair. The new doctor said basically there is nothing that Ben could do to Tear it apart now.

But enough about that. I'm sure you are wondering how our flip is going.

· scrap popcorn ceiling off of living/dining room ceiling DONE

· re-texture living room, dining room, bedrooms & study DONE

· gut the existing bathroom IN PROGRESS- grout & finishing touches are all that is left

· gut the kitchen IN PROGRESS- still needs outlets, grout on granite, old gas pipes cut out, door for water shut-off, upper cabinet above stove, and appliances

· re-finish the hardwood floors

· new windows

· new roof DONE, well sort of done. The original roof guy did a crappy job & refuses to certify his work. Which is a big problem. He won’t be getting paid & we have to get another company out to re-do the work.

· paint the exterior of the house IN PROGRESS- brick is primed

· remove front fence DONE! Rest of fence still needs to get painted

· tear down existing sheds DONE

· move the washer/dryer hook-ups & hot water heater to new closet DONE!

· build master bedroom with closet & master bath on the existing patio foundation

· build family room on rest of patio foundation with french doors to backyard

· and, maybe, a little bit of yardwork IN PROGRESS- yard is being watered & mowed. After calculating how much it will cost in gas & time to maintain the yard from the time the contractors finish to the time it closes, we decided not to do any yardwork. If needed we will offer a concession but considering the yard looks as nice as the rest of the block, we are not too concerned.


We ran into a few snags along the way over the past 3 weeks.

Snag 1: The contractor let his Denver license expire and did not get the proper permits before he started the addition because he was trying to save money. Since the house was vacant for so long, it was on the vacant/abandoned list. All that means, is that there is a city official that drives by a couple of times a month to check on the house. He of course saw the work going on & saw that it was being done without permits & shut the job down until the inspector could come by. The inspector came by, told the contractor to get a valid license, and what permits he would need as well.

After a week and a half delay, the contractor had a valid license & permits. The permits cost a grand total of $85. Yes, $85. Seems like a HUGE amount to be concerned about, right. Before the city would approve the permits for the addition, they needed to see a floor plan.

Snag 2: While Home Depot was creating the plan, work was able to continue on the rest of the house. We had the furnace guy come out to certify the furnace. The furnace was shot. It was original to the house & had never been cleaned. So we needed to replace it. Not too big of a deal because we had planned this into the budget.

Well at this same time, the city came back & said we could not use the original patio foundation & we needed to increase the pitch of the roof for the addition. This added about $6000 work which was not budgeted for. So the addition had to go bye-bye :(

But this freed up a little money so we are able to put in air conditioning along with the new furnace, so it was not all bad.

Snag 3: Over Memorial weekend, someone kicked in the back door & stole a bunch of materials & tools. They took off with the tub, sink, toilet, shower tile and other misc things. Basically all of the materials for the new bathroom to the tune of about $1500. The contractor for some reason did not call the police or let us know until this past weekend. So we are trying work with the insurance company & see what we can do at this point to file a claim. If that is even possible.


But all in all, it is coming along nicely. And it is set to be done by Saturday! We already have it on the market & the feedback has been very good. It won't be long before it is under contract.

I have updated the photo gallery with some pictures from the past 3 weeks. Or you can see a slide show of the photos here. What do you think so far?

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Math Wiz

So I am married to a math genius. He gets is from his parents, especially his dad. His dad's favorite bar trick back in the day was to tell people he could add or multiply faster in his head than you could with a calculator. By the time the person could get the numbers into the calculator, he would have the answer. He could supposedly go up to 17 digits (or 100 trillion) in his head.

Last night we were at the grocery store & while we were checking out, Ben goes "the total is going to be $114.25." Want to know what the total was, $117.55. He was off by $3.30. Subconsciously he managed to add everything we purchased as we walked through the store. The only reason he was off was because he was not sure how much all of the produce we bought weighed. He had estimated on the green beans, squash, zucchini, apples, sweet potatoes, avocado, and grapes. And yet was still within under $5. This is a very regular occurrence. He is normally within $5. Expect when we separate at the store & he does not see everything I put in the cart. Then he is off by $10-$15. Ridiculous, right?

Here's another even more ridiculous one... Easter weekend we went to the store where Ben stated we bought $200 worth of groceries. The bill totaled only $149. I was making fun of him for being so far off. I mean, he is never off by $50. So he shows me the receipt, where it showed how much we saved. We had saved $51. $149 spent + $51 saved = $200 worth of groceries. So not only did he add what we spent, he also managed to subconciously add how much we saved on every single item.

So my husband is seriously bizarrely smart when it comes to math. It kind of freaks me out every time he does it.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Next Project


We closed on our next project on April 25. It is a lovely aqua colored brick house located in the North Park Hill neighborhood.

It is currently a 2 bed, 1 bath house with a study. The original porch was turned into an additional room with 2 storage sheds attached to the house. Both storage sheds were fully sheet-rocked & insulated on the inside. It appeared that they were used as bedrooms. This house is much cleaner than our last project. The paint colors are atrocious however.

Want to see before pictures, go here.

Our plan of action is:
  • scrap popcorn ceiling off of living/dining room ceiling
  • re-texture living room, dining room, bedrooms & study
  • gut the existing bathroom
  • gut the kitchen
  • re-finish the hardwood floors
  • new windows
  • new roof
  • paint the exterior of the house
  • remove front fence
  • tear down existing sheds
  • move the washer/dryer hook-ups & hot water heater to new closet
  • build master bedroom with closet & master bath on the existing patio foundation
  • build family room on rest of patio foundation with french doors to backyard
  • and, maybe, a little bit of yardwork
It is an ambitious timeline. We are hoping to be done in 30 days and have the house back on the market end of May or early June.

We are currently one week into the project. (By, we, I mean the contractors.) The new roof is on, the sheds have been torn down, the framing is up for the new master suite and family room, existing bath has been gutted, kitchen has been gutted and the front of the house is being prepared for re-texturing.

Want to see the progress, go here.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Childhood saying comes to life

Did your parents ever tell you something silly that wasn't really true to get you to do something or stop doing something? You know like when you were little & making a stupid face and your parents told you to be careful, your face might freeze like that? You knew your face wouldn't freeze like that, but you were still scared it might, so you stopped.

Well, my mother-in-law told one of these such sayings to her boys as they were growing up, "if you poke someone in their belly button, their insides will fall out". Most likely it was because she did not like her belly button being touched. Who knows. So my husband has a fear of having his navel touched. And I make fun of him for it. Because really, your insides won't fall out. At least, that is what I used to think until Friday.

Since his last surgery, we have been joking every time I touch his belly button that his insides are going to fall out. And on Friday, we learned that indeed, I have caused his insides to fall out again. The hernia has reoccurred for a 3rd time. So he is going to have to have surgery again to repair it again.

We met with the surgeon today to find out the course of action. Said surgeon was a real ass to both Ben & me. He informed us he will not do the surgery until Ben has lost 40-50 pounds. That it wasn't the fact that he (the dr) had been conservative in his treatment over the past 8 weeks when Ben started showing signs of a problem. No, that wasn't what lead to the large hernia that now exists, no it is solely my husband's weight that caused the problem.

He was such an ass that he decided the appointment was done while we were still in the middle of asking questions about what to do in the meantime and told us to come back in 2 months & he walked out. We have no idea of what symptoms to watch for. Just if it gets unbearable or the symptoms get worse, make an appointment or go to the emergency room.

We are getting a 2nd opinion tomorrow in hopes that we can find a doctor with a better bedside manner and who will provide us with excellent care, instead of the adequate care that we have gotten up till now.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

You wouldn't believe me...

Would you believe me if I told you when I left work on Tuesday it was summer-like outside & yesterday it looked like a blizzard? That there was a 50 degree difference? No? Not possible?

How about now?

(taken at 4:45 pm on Tuesday 4/15)


(taken at 5:00 pm on Wednesday 4/16)

Most people have been complaining about how crazy the weather is. There were several shocked & unhappy people at work when it started snowing after lunch yesterday. The weather had been forecasting snow for days, so exactly how you could be shocked that it was snowing, I don't know. Welcome to springtime in Colorado. The weather can be a little bizarre.

But I personally enjoy these spring snows. It sticks to the grass, but melts on the streets & sidewalks. Which means my plants & grass get much needed water, but I don't have to shovel. And I hate shoveling. Of course, the 80 minute commute because of the crazy snow did suck. But I didn't have to shovel, so all is good :)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Factory video


Today I googled one of the factories I work with & found a video Patagonia made about them. If you want to see it go here.

I also stumbled upon this video Patagonia had made about another factory they work with. It is the same factory that I went to visit in Vietnam last year. This was always my favorite factory to visit because of how clean & beautiful it is. You can get an idea of how nice the factory is in the video.

Friday, March 21, 2008

EEK!!!

Have you seen this? They are apparently planning to do a remake/spinoff of 90210! I am not joking; it is seriously being worked on for the fall season. Don't believe me? Here's the plot for the new version.

My only question is which is more pathetic, that they are remaking it or the fact that I actually know about it....

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Women of Mt Rushmore

On the radio this morning they asked an interesting question, if you were to replace the 4 men of Mt Rushmore with 4 women, who would those women be? It came from a poll on this website.

My first thought was how many people could come up with 4 women? Could you? On my drive to work, I thought about who I would pick. I came up with Eleanor Roosevelt, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B Anthony, and Sojourner Truth. Who would you pick?

I honestly had a hard time coming up with many women. My list totaled probably 8 or 9. Not because there aren't great amazing women to choose from, just that I had a hard time remembering them. I could come up with a bunch of men pretty easily, but women were harder. I did not learn about as many women as I did men during school. In college, I did, since I went to a women's college, but for the other 12 years of my education I did not. You really only focused on women during women's history month. So the names were harder for me to remember.

At lunch, I looked at the poll to see who the winners were. And I read an interesting comment on it that really struck me because I had not even thought of it like this:
"It’s a presidential memorial, so it would take a minimum of 32 years to make four women eligible, some of whom would now scarcely be grown-ups. And as of the moment, we don’t even seem to be getting started." - Judith Martin

Based on that, how is it after 219 years there is not one single woman that we could put up there?

Friday, March 14, 2008

Guide to Hiring Women

This article was only from 65 years ago. It's interesting to see how far women have come in the workplace in a relatively short time. (If you click on the image it will open larger in another window so you can actually read it.)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

My Husband Rocks!

So I just have to brag about my husband for a minute. Yesterday his company had their quarterly recognition meeting and he won 3 awards: Rookie of the Quarter, Top Producer of the Quarter, and a third one that for the life of me I can not remember now. But it was equally as awesome.

He has 5 houses under contract right now, is writing an offer for another one tonight & is in the process of negotiating a contract on this one.

For a market that supposedly sucks, he sure is able to keep busy. What are we going to do when the market "turns" and he sells 3x this many houses in one month?

Updated 3/14: link fixed.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Dilemma

So I have a dilemma right now. A friend has asked me to help her with patternmaking for her company.

The dilemma is that if I help her, I will probably have to put my own line on hold again. (It's been on hold while I was taking care of sicky.) Since I have been putting it off for so long, I really don't want to continue delaying it.

But helping her would bring in extra money that we always could use, you know, with all the medical bills we have pouring in right now. I could also then put some of the money towards my own projects too. And the more capital I have for my own line, the better it will be & the easier it will be to get it really going.

My job has gotten a little more intense lately with more work & better projects. And I still have my commute, which will get longer here in the next couple of months when we move buildings. And I have the property business that takes time for me every week too. So really how much time do I want to spend working?

I don't have too many details yet on how much work it would entail though, so that part is hard to weight at this point I guess.

So really I guess the dilemma is do I put my own business on hold even longer to make additional money that we could really use? And that in the end would help my business?

What would you do if you were in my shoes?

Friday, February 15, 2008

Pure yumminess

OK so I know that yumminess is not really a word. But it is the best way to describe these cupcakes that I made last night.

Yesterday was my boss's birthday. Since she was traveling on a business trip & HATES big celebrations, we decided to just fill her office with goodies so that she would be surprised when she came into work today.

I made the cupcakes pictured above because she is a cupcake lover. They are coconut cupcakes & are absolutely delicious. She loved them & so did everyone else. I was a little worried since I had never tried the recipe before, but I was pleased with the way they turned out. Where did I get the recipe, you ask? Why from Martha Stewart of course.

Want the recipe? Well here you go:

Ina's Coconut Cupcakes

  • 3 cups cake flour, (non self-rising)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 large eggs
  • 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 pound sweetened flake coconut
  • Cream cheese frosting

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Sift the dry ingredients together into a medium mixing bowl, and set the bowl aside. Break eggs into a small bowl, and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. With the mixer running, carefully pour in eggs and vanilla and almond extracts.
  3. Mix in the flour mixture and buttermilk by alternating between 1 cup flour and 1/2 cup buttermilk; be sure to start and end with the flour mixture. Add half the coconut, and mix until just incorporated.
  4. Line a cupcake tin with paper liners. Fill each cup with batter using an ice-cream scoop with a 1/4-cup capacity; the batter should nearly reach the tops of the cups (but not all the way). Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.
  5. Remove cupcakes from the oven, and allow them to cool briefly in the tin before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely, about 45 minutes. Generously ice them with cream cheese frosting, and sprinkle with remaining coconut.
Makes about 24-30 cupcakes.


Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Place cream cheese in a medium mixing bowl. Using a rubber spatula, soften cream cheese. Gradually add butter, and continue beating until smooth and well blended. Sift in confectioners' sugar, and continue beating until smooth. Add vanilla, and stir to combine.

Makes enough to frost about 15 cupcakes.

I also toasted the extra coconut for the tops. To toast, put in 350 degree oven on a cookie sheet for 5-10 minutes. Stir several times during cooking. And keep a close eye on it because coconut burns quickly. (Trust me, I know from experience.)

Did I make you hungry? Are you going to try the recipe?

V-a-l-e-n-t-i-n-e-s D-a-y

Here's how I spent my Valentine's night. Bet you are jealous, right?!?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Political Philosophy

A quick, fun little quiz...







What's Your Political Philosophy?
created with QuizFarm.com
You scored as New Democrat

New Democrats emphasize fiscal conservatism, and have a strong preference for the free market. They believe in small-scale programs that provide targeted help to those in need, while working with the business community.


New Democrat



80%

Old School Democrat



70%

Pro Business Republican



55%

Libertarian



45%

Green



40%

Foreign Policy Hawk



40%

Socially Conservative Republican



0%


Monday, February 11, 2008

Organization #1

Remember, my New Year's resolutions??? Well, I started working on #3.




So last night while I was waiting for my husband to finish an open house, I started organizing our linen closet. I, of course, forgot to take pictures before I pulled everything out. But rather than not take any pictures, I decided to take pictures from when I thought about it.

So here are the shelves emptied out.






Here is some of the stuff that I pulled out. I could not believe the amount of medicine that was shoved in there.





And here is the rest of the stuff. I could not believe how much stuff we (really, I) had stashed on these shelves.

It was a little hard to decide what to keep & what it was time to get rid of. Like the crimping iron, I haven't used it since college, but my niece did a couple of years ago. And having it makes a quick for a quick Halloween costume. So I decided to keep it.

But I did get rid of the home spa, hot rollers, jewelry cleaner and shower shelves. None of which I have used since we moved into our house. And I had not used most of them since I moved back from Seattle



This is all of the medicine that I got rid of. My sister suggested a better way for the environment than flushing them down the toilet to get rid of them. She suggested putting them in the dirty cat litter before I throw it out. The odor will get into the pills & no one will want to take them.





Rather than put all the medicine back into the linen closet, I moved it into the medicine cabinet in the 1/2 bath. You know, the medicine cabinet that has been empty since we moved in.

But it is now being put to good use.




And here are the shelves, all neat & organized. Oh, and not packed to the gills.

Each drawer is separated out. All the band-aids in one, all my spa things in another. I need to get a label maker so I can mark each one. I know I am a dork, wanting a label maker, but I do.

Now to tackle the top shelf with all of the bedding, blankets, etc. that are shoved up there. That will have to wait until another day though. I have to figure out a better place to store it all first.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

After

So here are the "after" pictures of the condo. It is essentially done. All that is left is a few minor details like a couple vent covers, a light bulb and a little cleaning. We hopefully will have a renter for it after this weekend...







This is the first bathroom. We ended up having to replace the vanities because the old ones were infested with cockroaches. Gross!!!








This is the 2nd bathroom with its new vanity. We got this one for $100 off because there were some scratches on the inside (yes, the inside).










Remember the nasty shower from before? Well, here it is now. Much cleaner.










And here is the living room with new carpet & fresh paint. Much more inviting this time....











Finally, here is the kitchen. It has new cabinets (complete with doors on all spaces). AND we added the little pantry so that the stove would not ruin the refrigerator like before.










Another view of the kitchen.






So what do you think? Does it look livable now?

Friday, February 1, 2008

Crunchy Granola Squirrels


I would love to say that no actual squirrels were harmed in the making of this post, but well, I would be lying...

The other day, Ben saw Sammy with a squirrel hanging out of her mouth. While he was out showing homes, apparently one of the squirrels that regularly tortures my dogs by running across the fence taunting them was stupid enough to go down into the yard. And well, my dogs decided to capture the squirrel.

We called the vet & she said not to worry about it. Dogs are natural hunters. So they will hunt. So we should not be concerned about the behavior. And unless the squirrel bit them, they did not need rabies shots. So I am trying to be calm about it, but it is freaking me out a little. Time to do some reading on dog behavior I guess.

(Was anyone else humming that song "the other day I saw a bear" after reading the 2nd paragraph? Maybe it was just me, but now that song is stuck in my head.)

I am sure you are wondering where the crunchy granola part comes in... Well, I have turned my husband crunchy granola. When he was going into the office on Wednesday, he took an empty travel coffee mug with him. I found it a little strange since he was taking an empty cup. Turns out that he does not like the cups at the office. I figured they were just small & he did not like having to keep refilling them. He said no, it's that they are those styrofoam cups & he does not like wasting styrofoam. He would rather use a reusable cup!

I have turned my husband into a crunchy granola!!! How did that happen?!?

Oh, and the carpet goes in tommorow so I should have "after" pictures this weekend.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

1st property

So we bought our first investment property last week. I say "we" because I find myself
being more involved in than originally planned. The plan is to rent it out.

It is a 3 bedroom, 2 bath condo that is near where the University of Colorado hospital & Children's hospital moved to. The interior is absolutely disgusting. The walls were stitcky. The carpet was black with filth. And it smelled so bad that you could only be inside for a little while before feeling nauseaous.

Here are some of the before pictures. The work will be completed next week and I'll post after pictures then.


This is the bathroom, and yes, it was seriously that filthy. Not sure what the contractors are using but it will sparkle when all is said & done.




This is the living room. The carpet was originally light gray. Could you imagine walking on this???



Another angle of the living room. Notice how filthy the vent is too.




The kitchen.



After we moved the refridgerator. Gross. Makes me want to clean behind mine!




And here was the stove. Would you ever cook on this?!?

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Resolutions

So I do not normally make New Year's resolutions. I can't even remember the last time I did. You always hear how no one keeps the resolutions they make. So to me I have always thought what is the point, why make a resolution if I won't end up following through with it anyway. Why waste the time?

But I have been changing my thought process over the last few weeks. Helping Ben with his businesses, I have noticed the way to be successful is to plan. If you do not have a solid business plan & focus, your business cannot thrive. And then I saw an article somewhere that talked about how the best chance you have to make your New Year's resolutions stick is to make a specific plan before you start of how you plan achieve. (Of course, I can't find that article again to link to it.)

So I have decided to give the whole "making New Year's resolution thing" a try. Here are the few that I have:

1. Financial Security
- this one is pretty self-explanatory, we want to get to the point where we do not have to worry about having enough money each month. We are very close, just not quite there yet.
2. Get healthier
- I want to get to a healthy body fat percentage. I do not care so much how much I weigh, as long as I am healthy.
3. Organize our house & lives.
- Over the next year, I want to go through each room of our house & organize everything. By next Christmas I do not want to spend 30 minutes searching for my spreading knives. I want to know exactly where they are & be able to get them easily. (I never did find them this year, who knows which of the multitudes of storage I have of where they can be...)
4. Continue working on my own business
- I have no idea what my plan is for this one. Or even what I want to accomplish. I still need to figure all that out. But it is on the list so that I do not put it off.

We have a whole detailed plan of how we plan to accomplish each of these. (Well, all except for #4 that is.) I didn't want to put it all here & bore you to death. But there is a plan in place for each.

So do you have any resolutions you are making this year?

Happy New Year!

How did you spend your New Year's Eve? I spent mine in the hospital with Ben. On Sunday he wasn't feeling too well & so he called the on-call doctor to see if we could wait until the morning when he had a follow-up appointment with the doctor or if we needed to go the ER. Of course, he told us to go to the ER. That's our luck, right?

They found that the hernia has ruptured. It is not nearly as big as it was the 1st time, which is good. We are not sure what exactly caused it to tear; it could have been a cough, a sneeze, twisting wrong, or losing his balance on the ice. He has been very careful about what he lifts so most likely it wasn't that.

But he still has to have surgery to repair it again. The surgery is scheduled for some time tomorrow afternoon.

So that is how I spent mine. Hope yours was better than mine.