Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Someday I'll be 40

I'm not working today.
I didn't work yesterday, either.
If the babies are sleeping, I'm working. That's just how it goes around here lately. But yesterday I made a choice to not work. Instead I blogged for the first time in almost six months, I read my blog roll all the way through, I cleaned the kitchen, put away laundry, spray painted a chair on the lawn (which is apparently not a good idea, according to the husband. Who knew spray paint kills grass? Plus, it's red. It looks like I killed a bear.)
And today, when the kids went down for naps and I sat down to work, it just didn't happen. I think perhaps my brain is telling me to take a break for a minute and just be happy for today. That sounds cheesy. But I got to thinking after my post yesterday. A few of the comments said "Hang in there!". I worried that I sounded like I was complaining about my kiddos. Sure, things are crazy around here, but my life is AWESOME. Really. I know that in 10 years I am going to look back on these few years I am lucky enough to be home with my babies and remember them as the best time in my life. I know, as a 40 year old, that I will curse my 30 year old self for worrying so much about work, money, what's next, etc. 40 year old Tracy will tell 30 year old Tracy to relax and enjoy her wonderful kids, her crazy old house, her sweet husband, and her amazing life. 40 year old Tracy will tell me to stop worrying about losing baby weight, getting the house "done", and figuring out what the next step is. (40 year old Tracy will probably tell 30 year old Tracy to stop pulling out her gray hairs, too.)
So today I'm not working. I'm not worrying about the work that I have to do. I'm watching my son sleep in his swing, waiting for my daughter to wake up from her nap, and appreciating how truly lucky I am to be here, right now.
Take that 40 year old Tracy.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Some Observations On Motherhood

Hello Blog.
I couldn't stand that my last post was something so boring. So I'm back.
I started another blog. I thought I could write there, without the time suck of putting together outfits.
But you know what, blog? I can't write without a stupid outfit up there to get me started. Considering that I make my living as, you know, a writer, that kind of blows. Seriously. I'd think of something funny and clever to write, and then I'd change a diaper. And make a snack. And pick raisins out of the carpet while wiping spit up out of my hair. And by the time I even thought about blogging, whatever clever thing I'd thought of had been replaced by something else in my brain, like the theme song from Pinky Dinky Doo. Which has to be the most annoying children's show of all time, followed closely by Clifford the Big Red Dog. (Best kids show? Word Girl. Husband informed me this morning that it is no longer on at 6:30 am, which is sad because we both enjoy Word Girl's humor. We need lives.)
On a different note, I thought that having two kids would be simply twice as much work. Ha ha! Funny mommy!
Holy Shit.
Having two kids increases your crazy level exponentially.
So my vision of reading sweetly to the 2 year old while the 4 month old sleeps soundly in his crib looks more like cleaning the 2 year old's poop off the bathroom floor while holding the screaming 4 month old against my chest. The 4 month old who decides it's a good time to vomit into my cleavage.
On the bright side...I have cleavage!

Friday, February 18, 2011

More great thrifting next week!

And another sale that's not to be missed! Thrift Town is beyond awesome...they source their stuff from many different places (as opposed to Goodwill, where all the stuff is donated to just them), so there's an eclectic mix of really neat finds. And even better, this sale lasts a WHOLE week! So Hutch and Katie (and everyone else to has to work Monday) can get their thrift on! Check out their locations here  and their fun blog here!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

How do you like them apples?

This Monday (President's Day), Goodwill is having one of their oh-so-wonderful 50% off sales!  I'm not sure if the sale extends beyond the Northern California area, so make sure you head over to the Goodwill website and locate a store in your area. As long time blog readers know, I swear by the 50% off sale for stocking up on baby/kid clothes. The day after Thanksgiving I spent $165. At a half price sale. (You should have seen my cart!) So think about $330 not half price. My husband and I figured that we scored about $3,000 (retail price) worth of baby clothes for the new little bean and his big sister. Holla!
So if you've got the day off and are hankering for some new (to you) cheap duds, head on over to your local Goodwill. Maybe I'll see you there!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

New Kitchen on the Cheap!

Before we move into our new house (yay!), it's our plan to remodel the kitchen and dining area. The current set up is pretty bad...a galley kitchen with beat up cabinets, a carpeted formal dining room, and a living room that connects to one end of the kitchen. Basically, it's a segmented, maze-like mess. It's our vision to break down the kitchen wall and turn it into an island, and then open up the dining room and living room, making the whole space into one "great room". 
Which brings me today's blog post. We've been thinking a lot about cabinets, color schemes, etc., but I haven't really put anything down on "paper" until today. Our style is pretty laid back...we want a kitchen we can live with for a long time, that can grow with our family, and that won't look dated in 20 years. We like color, clean lines, and a modern meets vintage feel. Here's what I've come up with so far. Everything comes from either Overstock or Ikea. Although not exactly cheap, it certainly won't break the bank, either! 

Or the second option...

Which do you prefer?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Reader Request!

Over on the TOTC Facebook Page, Katie was looking for some ideas on how to wear these cute crops from Old Navy. Since she works in retail, she has to wear flat shoes, but still look stylish. She wanted to keep her rocker/edgy look...which I think I totally missed the boat on. Shoot. The tank hidden beneath the white jean jacket is kind of edgy, and white denim is kind of rocker-ish, right? But boat shoes? Scarves? I may have struck out. Anywho, I think I need to get myself to the ol' O.N. and buy those earrings. LOVE!

It's all from Old Navy today...
Tiered Tank
Boat Shoes
Cropped Trousers

Anyone out there in blogland have a request? Hopefully I can nail your style better than Katie's! (No guarantee though, I am currently living in my husband's thermal long sleeve shirt and ultra stretchy pregnancy jeans. Fashion has left the building).

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Before and After...

Our new house was built in 1963. It has popcorn ceilings and a carpeted formal dining room. It also has a patio that has been converted to a huge bonus room, which would be cool if I was a teenager and it was, say, 1975. The point? We're going to have lots of remodel and decor challenges in our new pad. Which thrills me to no end, because I love painting and demolition as much as a great Craigslist or garage sale find. PLUS...I'm hoping to showcase more cheap home related projects on this here blog. Which brings me to today's post. I'd always wanted to do a before and after of our old house, but felt weird putting my home on the internet. Now I can! 

Here's the before of our formal living room. The whole house was like a time capsule from 1966. The couches behind those rockin' marble tables were covered in plastic. Awesome.

The living room after. We made the best of the mint carpet by pairing it with a purple couch ($200 on Craigslist!) .  Purple brocade curtains were $10 at Big Lots, and the chairs and ottoman were another Craigslist find. 
Hello, ugly kitchen! From the chiffon curtains to the ornate hardware,  this kitchen screamed old lady, which makes sense because the previous owner was a 97 year old lady who had built the house as her retirement home. In 1966. The fridge was full of white wine and ice cream. My kind of woman!  
The stove that burnt everything we tried to cook. Wouldn't you love to have a built in convection oven?

After. We didn't change much (new hardware, bye bye wallpaper, new paint) because I wanted it to still have that 60's charm. 

More kitchen after. Containers courtesy Grocery Outlet, and art from Big Lots.  Oh, and the curtains were on clearance at Walmart. 

The den before. The indoor/outdoor brown floral carpet was particularly charming. I loved ripping that stuff up (as well as removing those iron banisters). 
The den (or the "step down lounge" as I liked to call it) after. Red couch, another great $300 Craigslist find. You can't really see it, but the table on the left is repurposed as an entertainment center. My husband scored that for $10 from the Catholic church rummage sale and attached half of an old coffee table to the bottom to hold our dvd player, etc. 

Master bedroom before. Notice how there is no carpet? There's a reason they had to tear it glad I didn't include the photo of the patched hole in the floor where the previous owner "expired" (what can I say? The house was a GREAT deal!)

Master bedroom after. Never one ghostly experience. 

2nd bedroom before. People who stayed in this room did claim to have some vivid nightmares and hear strange sounds. 

So that's where we put our kid. She never complained. (Of course, she couldn't talk yet, either). 

Dining room before (that's me holding the previous owner's circa 1960 wedding dress. That I did NOT get to keep. Shoot). 
Dining area after new flooring, paint, etc. Once again, furniture from Big Lots. That place is a treasure trove of bargain finds!

So that's the tour of the old casa. I hope you're up for some fun new projects in the future, because I'm all about branching out (while still staying in the realm of cheapness) and sharing the transformation of our new house with you guys!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Red Dress Love

My friend (the one who is getting married in July) and I found this dress on Modcloth the other day while looking for bridesmaid's dresses. Our conversation via email went something like this...
Her: "Do you see that red dress?"
Me: "Good lord, that's a GORGEOUS dress! I would so wear that"
Her: "Why can't that come in my colors?"
Me: "Red works for me!" (I'm such a bad bridesmaid...)

Anywho, it's quite a stunner, don't ya think? It's the perfect type of dress to wear to a summer wedding, a fancy Valentine's date, a Christmas party, or perhaps...

dressed as a pin up girl to go bar hopping on Halloween with your husband dressed in drag.
(Many years ago, before kids, before shame).

The scoop:
Clutch, Payless
Peep Toes, Forever 21
Mod Hoops, Forever 21
Frankly I Don't Give A Dress, Modcloth
Ring, Target

Thursday, February 3, 2011

There's a Bun in the Oven

Around about the time we decided to try and sell our house, we also made the decision to put off having another baby. We figured the responsible thing to do was wait until we knew what our housing situation was going to be before bringing another little Cheapster into the world. Because you usually can't buy another house for at least 2 years after a short sale, the wait could have been pretty long. Both my husband and I were bummed, but felt we were being really grown up about the whole thing. It's always nice to feel grown up, isn't it?
We put the house in the market July 8. August 1st I found out I was pregnant. I'm due in late April.
"Ha ha!" said Karma.
We'll be moving in to our new house right before the baby is born. I think he must have known it would all work out. (Yep, it's a boy).

Everything today comes from Old Navy. I have a non-maternity Old Navy striped shirt that I am wearing the heck out of. Surprisingly, horizontal stripes while pregnant help to say, "Hey look, I'm not getting fat, it's actually a baby!"

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Bridesmaid Dress Re-Do

I'm currently bridesmaid dress shopping, along with some other fine gals, for the wedding of a dear friend in July. I shared this quest for dresses with the EG bloggers while we waited for dinner the other night, and was regaled with the stories that so many of us 20 to 30 somethings have in common. Heather described her after childbirth, 2 sizes too big dress that fastened in back (perfect for nursing a newborn!). Hutch (of Be Awesome Instead) told us of her bag full of bridesmaid dresses that need to go to the cleaners, and also of her reluctance to do so because they will never get worn again.
Which begged the question...what could we, as a group of fun having, young-ish women, do to give these dresses the second chance they deserve? (Well, some of them...I'm sure some of them are just plain ugly). A cocktail party? Fun. A cocktail party followed by a game of mud football? Even MORE fun.
Then as I was looking for pictures of ugly bridesmaid dresses, I found this. Now, for reasons that I haven't shared yet, I'm not exactly up for a pub crawl (or a satin dress, for that matter) at the moment, but once summer hits, I'm totally rounding up the girls for some bridesmaid-y fun.
Have any of you done anything fun with old bridesmaid dresses? Any other ideas to throw in the mix? Who else want to join in? Anyone else regretting that they donated their bridesmaid dresses to Goodwill? (What was I thinking?) I'm sure Hutch has one I can borrow...

Monday, January 31, 2011

Where I've been...

I'm going to try for the short version.
In 2005 we bought our first house. We were 25, newly married, and wanted to start a family. We needed a nest before we had babies. We bought the cheapest house to sell in our town in months, a 2 bedroom ranch that we absolutely loved. I was 25, self employed, yet able to qualify for a nearly $300K loan (first red flag!). The bank couldn't understand why I didn't want to borrow more (second red flag!). Since my husband didn't have a long credit history, I was the only one of us one the loan. This would end up being our saving grace. Our mortgage payments were high, but we were assured that we would be able to refinance to a lower, fixed rate within a year. Should we have just rented? Maybe. Should we have waited until the market went down? To that I say, Who knew it was going to go down? Hindsight is 20/20.
Fast forward 3 years. Our house was worth $100K less than we paid for it. Our adjustable rate mortgage was set to re-adjust with no chance of refinance in sight. With the tanking economy had gone not only the equity in our home, but 2/3 of my freelance work, and my teacher husband was facing furloughs. We were still paying our outrageous mortgage, but after 3 years of simply maintaining, it was clear that we soon would be in trouble.
This was about the point where I stopped blogging. I realized that I needed to do something to save my family from what would ultimately be our financial ruin. I looked at our hand. What cards did we have? How would we play them? I started researching for hours a day. We agreed that a short sale was our best option. If we were able to short sell our house, with no missed payments (practically impossible), there was a small, itsy bitsy chance that my husband might be able to qualify for a loan after all was said and done. It was a long shot, but it really was our only hope. The Obi Wan Kenobi to our Princess Leia.
We hired the best short sale real estate agent in Sacramento. I spent hours on the phone with the bank, oftentimes followed up with more hours of research to see what to expect next. I haunted real estate forums. I Googled and Bing-ed until my eyes hurt. It was easily the most stressful period of my life. Banks are NOT your friends. Our bank (which rhymes with mace) is staffed by life sucking zombies from hell. We were current on our payments throughout the whole process, yet made to feel like schmucks for even trying to sell our house. They were beyond terrible at every turn. You know that "I love my bank" commercial? I hate my bank.
We listed our house in July, got an offer a week later, and closed escrow November 24th. It sold for $110,000 less than we paid for it. After childbirth, that day ranks as the biggest accomplishment of my life.
The end result? We now have an offer on a new house, are in escrow, and close in early March. It's one block away from our old house. Our new mortgage payment will be approximately 1/3 of what we were previously paying, for a house that's twice as big.
I know that not everyone in this situation is as lucky as we were. It took hours and hours of hard work, research, pleading, patience, and dedication. Not everyone starts out with the same set of circumstances. BUT, if you are in a tight spot, please know that there are options. Do your research. Don't think you have to stop paying your mortgage. And feel free to ask me any questions. I am by no means an expert, but I learned a thing or two throughout the process.
And now that the dust has settled, my family is soon to be in a new home, and life is calm again, I can BLOG!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Blog is BACK!

The blog is BACK, for good this time! Having been inspired by the hometown bloggers I so luckily joined for dinner last night, I'm back to blogging. See a really great write up of our evening, here, at Heather's blog (still one of my fav's). Getting to know these girls through their blogs has been fun, but in person they are ten times better. I was actually kind of nervous to meet them all again, but through the common thread of blogging we discovered we have a ton in common (and all can make each other laugh!)
Instead of bore you with a long story of where I've been on this first post, I thought I'd just put together an outfit. I'll wait until later this week to tell the story of what I've been up to since August 27th, which was the last time I posted. The horror!
I have all sorts of things to write about, including how this little ol' blog will be different going forward, new additions, and big life changes, but in the meantime, enjoy some spring inspired cheapness on this rainy, rainy day.

Sweater, Modcloth
Haute Pink Top, Modcloth
Jeans, Overstock
Bag, Forever 21
Flats, Target
Bracelet, Old Navy
Sunglasses, Forever 21

FYI-Does anyone know how to make links in blogger just show the words you typed, not the HTML? For some reason all my links make big lines of HTML in my posts since my return...grr...


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