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May. 31st, 2016

Five Oaks



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We've been here just over a month now, and it still feels like a vacation.

Fezzik! Our 400+yr old White Oak. What a glorious Tree.  #nofilter  #oak #oaktree #whiteoak #fiveoaks #home #garden #dantesspirit


Well, with the exception of yard maintenance.}:P Even then, there's a huge sense of accomplishment when we stand back and look at the fruit trees, the roses, the black leaved crepe myrtle, the day lilies, the irises, the asiatic lilies and more that we've already planted and see how well they're settling in and flourishing just within days, as well as how nice the grass looks when it's freshly cut .

This place hasn't had anyone living in it properly, full time, taking care of the land and the plants and the trees as they need and should be, for a very, very long time. As I've said before, we are apparently only the 4th owners of the property and as far as we can tell, outside of the first owners, it was really only used as a vacation home for much of it's 76+ year life.

But slowly, slowly, we are bringing the heart back into this land. The previous owners did an excellent job at updated the interior while keeping the original features and character as well as put in some great bones and framework for spectacular garden spaces, and now, it's our turn to help the land reach it's full potential.

Already have a good start on the road towards getting a bird sanctuary designation, common five lined skinks, red headed woodpecker feeding ground and home to various insects. So, until it becomes unstable, we're leaving it alone.

Meet some 'neighbors'- not really neighbors in the sense that they live right next door, more like across the road and up the next one aways. They've been here 50 years and love this area too. Watched the front hay field be cut yesterday. The guy spotted a fawn, stopped, picked it up and moved it out of the way. Then waited while it ran for the brush line, bleating for its mom, before starting the tractor up and finishing. When he was done, he waved and told us to have a good weekend. People are so *nice* around here. It's quite the change and we're still getting used to it.

Tomorrow, we actually make out first mortgage payment. Maybe then, it'll become real, that yes, this *is* in fact our home now. Heh. But first, a final blood count check for Miss Sassy.

Meanwhile, today, I'm in my office, admiring the view, smelling the fresh cut hay and getting ready to list new items in the Big Cartel and Square shops, while watching thunderheads build over the Peaks of Otter.

May. 10th, 2016

Moving... And coming Home.

So a little over a week and a half ago, we closed on our new house. It's a wonderful 1940 bungalow on 1.73 acres with absolutely no neighbors nearby. The nearest neighbor is easily a quarter mile or more away.

After we closed, we brought Dante, Max and Aries' urns over and they were the very first things to be unpacked in our new home. They look right at home on the mantle, surrounded by their photos.

We then spent the next 3.5 days actually moving the rest of our stuff. We are still trying to figure out how two 15 ft UHaul truck loads and then some fit into a 700 sqft townhouse. After we got the big things, like the bookcases, the buffet, etc, I spent the next week, going back and forth, hauling odds and ends from the townhouse to the house and cleaning it. Last Friday, we made the final trip, grabbing the bikes and closed the door on the townhouse for good.

Now I'm trying to figure out where everything fits in this 1266 sqft home of ours. The living room is really the only room that's 90% setup as it'll be. I'm in the process of arranging the studio/office, it's about 50% of the way there. Heh. Then there's all the books to unpack and put back up on the bookshelves, all the photos and prints to figure out where they will hang, some painting to do...

Oh and mowing the nearly 1 acre of open grass. Yeah. I accidentally broke our new lawnmower the day after we just put it together, 3 days after we bought it. So we had to take that back and exchange it. So 75% of the yard is mowed so far.}:P

So far, it's been like Christmas. Everyday, we discover something new here at Five Oaks (I did mention that the property was named }:P ). Sunday, it was that we have grapes! Today, it was that we may actually have Mulberry trees! And the stars on a clear night! Wow. And the frogs and bullfrogs in the ponds below us... It honestly still feels like a vacation.

It's an itty bitty Peach! Woo!  #nofilter  #fruittree #fruittrees #peach #garden #fiveoaks #dantesspirit
Itty Bitty Peach!


There's a Catbird nest with 4 eggs in the cedar bush directly outside the back door, so we moved the walkway out further, to give the birds a touch of privacy. Morrigan has discovered them and now camps out in the windows on the back porch. Free cat TV. Heh.


Two owners ago, they buried a beloved cat in the back corner, complete with stone marker. The previous owners scattered the ashes of their beloved German Sheps there as well. So the plan is to turn that corner into a memorial garden. We brought Puck, Rue and Nyx's stones with us and will be placing them there, as well as selecting nice memorial stones from my collection for Dante, Max and Aries.


Still need to plant my Irises along the front of the front porch, got the compost bin set up, now need to lay out the garden area, plant the rest of our plants we brought with us and figure out where we want to put our new apple and pear trees and the future pecan trees we want to add, as well as clear the right back 'field/wild brush' area as well, thin out some of the sumac/paradise trees and bittersweet vines trying to take over in that area. Oh, and get the ivy off of Fezzik, our beloved 400+ year old White Oak next to the house. Speaking of irises, someone who lived here absolutely *loved* irises. They are everywhere! And in colors I didn't have.


So, as of right now...

Bird tally so far- Cardinals, Titmouse, Nuthatch, Catbird, Redwinged Blackbird, Goldfinches, Purple/House Finches, Blue Jay, Mourning Dove, Robins, Carolina Wrens, Sparrows, Chickadees, Pileated Woodpecker, Indigo Buntings...

All the birds at the townhouse and then some.}:P Seen Crows around but not in the yard yet. Canadian Geese and goslings in the field in front of us and a Redshouldered Hawk soaring overhead.

AND a Crane/Heron (couldn't *quite* tell which) flew over from the ponds as well.

Fruit/Nut tally so far- Plums, Peaches, Apples, Pear, Black Walnuts, Blackberries, Strawberries- the 5 plants I brought with me are producing- GRAPES, Quince, potentially Cherries and maybe Mulberries too.

In the near future, we want to get chickens as well. And look into solar power.


I'd say we are well on our way to being as self-sufficient as we possibly can be.}:P


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Mar. 29th, 2016

Changes are afoot.

Yes, I've been slack at keeping up the blog. It's been a rather busy couple of weeks. Toward the beginning of March, we decided to house hunt. It was an exhausting experience and wasn't fun at all. Looking at house you know aren't near large enough, or have too close of neighbors. Six houses in and I was ready to give up.

You note I said *was*.

We are currently in the process of buying a house.

House inspection was last Friday, the house is structurally sound and has very minor things that the seller shouldn't have any issues with correcting. And even if they won't, they're not deal breakers, we'll just do them ourselves. To that end, the tentative closing date is the end of April.

No matter what the house hunting/buying TV shows may show you, buying a house is not a straight forward process. They cut *a lot* out in the name of time and expediency.

After 9/11, they passed a series of laws regarding the transfer of funds. Since we are being gifted the 20% down for the house, we have to show *exactly* where that money is coming from- both from the person who is giving it to us, via their bank statements showing the funds are/were available at the time, copies of the check(s) sent to us, statements from our bank showing that it had been deposited AND the deposit slips.

Loan companies want to know where *anything* over $500.00 came from. They also want 2-3 months worth of banking logs- not statements, *logs* from the bank itself, showing every transaction. They also want a month's worth of pay stubs to compare against the bank logs. Obstensively, this is to prove that yes, you get paid what you say you do and no, you have no liens, or other debts, aside from utilities and rent or credit card bills, coming out (like child support, IRS payments, etc). If you can't give them the documentation they want, it's a red flag and the loan may not get approved. After you get them all the paperwork, hopefully in a timely manner, it can still take anywhere from 30 to 40 DAYS for the loan to process.

That is where we are right now.

We have been told by both the loan officer and our realtor, we are unusual home buyers. I guess because not only did we know exactly what we were looking for and what we would and would not compromise on, but in the terms of knowing in exactly what we want to pay per month, regardless of the fact that we actually qualified for $90,000 MORE than the house we are buying. We simply didn't want a $1,000+ house payment. We wanted to be house rich AND comfortable money wise as well. But also because we've gotten them every bit of paperwork they asked for in a very timely manner, as in, within 24-48 hours. Apparently, some people take weeks. Hrm.

So as a result, we are *well* within the limits of our debt to income ratio. Most people apparently go for a house at the very top of what they are prequalified for, which is what leads to problems. We didn't want to go that route, having been there, done that, once already 20+ years ago.

I'll talk more about the house at a later date, but suffice it to say- it has nearly everything we wanted, especially in terms of land, with the exception of only being one bathroom instead of a minimum of one and a half. We did good.

The best part, besides the nearly 2 acres of relatively flat yard? The house is named. And it's a wonderful, wonderful name.


* * * * * * *




In other news, after Mysticon, I bought myself a 7ft adjustable triloom. It finally arrived a little over a week ago and I went to work immediately making a 6ft shawl using Unplanned Peacock Morphic Peacock Sock in the Fountain colorway, dark to light.



Unlike the 3ft triloom and my rigid heddle loom, this one requires a lot of standing, bending and walking back and forth. This was 3 hours worth of work right there. Mainly because Miss Sassy kept laying right in front of where I was working (that should have been our first hint that she wasn't well).



But after a few days of working on it for a couple hours at a time, I finished the shawl now known as Water. On the loom, itself was gorgeous as is, and I couldn't wait to remove it and finish the top edge.



Needless to say, it's stunning off the loom. I will have a very hard time parting with this one, methinks, but that is why I create things like this- if I love them, I know someone else will love them as well. This was before the ends were woven in and the top edge finished off. The drape and flow was quite lovely. I plan to get more of the UPP Morphic yarns in the other colors and create more like this.



I even had enough of each color to weave a 3ft version, but light to dark, which will go to my mom as a Mother's Day gift this year. I also had enough to do 2 more 3ft shawls, one in light to medium, the other in dark to medium. They, and the large Water, will be available at the Olde Liberty Fiber Faire the 3rd week of April.


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Speaking of Miss Sassy, last Thursday morning, we had to take her to the vet. Turns out, her red blood count was extremely low. Normally cats have a count of 40-45, her's was TEN. The vet said, and I quote, "It was not enough to sustain life." She was literally dying in front of us and we didn't know why.

They had to do a blood transfusion and tests. Ruled out a stroke (which is what we thought was going on), diabetes, kidney issues, thyroid issues and leukemia. That left a flea/tick/mosquitoe/biting fly borne disaese- hemobartella.

I blame the neighbors next door for throwing *bread* out into not only their back yard, but over the fence into ours (when I find it, it gets disposed of immediately), the result of which has attracted rats, whom have taken up residence next door but come under the fence to my side for the bird seed I no longer put out. Rats carry fleas. We've had a bad flea issue for the last year, when we hadn't had hardly *any* in the many years prior. So I blame the neighbors.

Miss Sassy is recovering quite nicely. Still a bit skinnier than we'd prefer, but she is 17 yrs old, so never really was a big Siamese. She's fighting the meds when dosed, which is always a good sign, very mouthy when we're getting dinner or lunch or really, *any* food in the kitchen. Needles us for her breakfast, then finishes Morrigan's when she walks away. And she's purring again. Almost normal.

Speaking of blood transfusion- feline blood only lasts 60 days, so most vets do not keep any on hand. Most feline blood types are compatible, I believe, with the others, but the need for feline donors is great. If you have a cat that is of a good size (over 10 lbs) and is healthy, do yourself, your friends with cats and your neighbors with cats, a favor and go get your cat blood typed and registered as a donor.

We almost lost Miss Sassy because we almost did not have a donor nearby. Thankfully, we got lucky and found one. But you simply never know when your cat or someone else's cat might suddenly need blood.

So go get your cat registered as a blood donor.}:)



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Jan. 4th, 2016

Hullo, 2016

I'll try to do better on the blogging front, I promise.

I've already decided that Facebook makes me angry too much, sometimes daily, and as a result, my whole day gets thrown out of whack. So, cutting back on Facebook is a definite thing. Which means, more gets posted here instead, even if it's just a random thought, scatter shot type of posting, its still a posting, yes? Heh.

Christmas was fun. And I mean that sarcastically.

We woke up to a completely flat tire on Christmas day. Then we found out the hard way, that all five tires- to include the spare had a locking lug nut on them. And we did not have the wheel lock key to remove them. Or the proper sized socket set and a breaking bar to force them off. Yeah.




Those 5 things right there cost us over $300.00, since we ended up having to buy two new tires instead, as the flat was not repairable and putting a new (the spare) tire on it with a worn tire, might have resulted in damage to the transfer case, which would cost over $3,000.00 to repair. Merry Christmas to us! Ugh.

Then, yesterday, we took down the Christmas lights and discovered that half the new net lights we bought (and ended up actually hating the colors on) no longer work, half had gone out a couple days ago, but it was wet and rainy and we weren't messing with them in the rain, - good thing we got them at half price. They went into the trash. New Year's Day, discovered that a portion of our strand of white lights we use on the porch was out. Closer examination after taking them down, it was discovered that an entire bulb had been removed- read, chewed completely out by the wildlife. Found the bulb section on the ground when we went to look for it. Yeah.



The first quarter or so works, then there's about 50-75 lights that don't, then the rest work. It's a 250 bulb strand. Yeah. Might end up using it for the dwarf alberta spruce, then using the unlit section to cross to the porch, then the rest on the porch, assuming we're here next holiday season to put lights up. *After* we electrical tape the cut section off. Otherwise, the plan is to try to find a white LED strand instead.

We set a house hunting goal line. And that's October-November of this year, with an eye towards hopefully being in a new home by Christmas if not New Year's. So, between now and then, that means figuring out what we absolutely can cut out (going out to eat so much, for starters) and instead put towards savings to build up that nest egg faster, as well as pay the credit cards down and potentially off completely, and figuring out how to build the husband's credit record up more. He's got a reasonably good credit score right now, but ideally, we'd like it to be a lot higher and a great score instead.

We've been narrowing down areas we're interested in potentially looking at houses in, as well as styles of house, size of both house and land, number of bedrooms, etc. We also have a 'theoretical' price range - well, what *we* would be interested in paying per month towards a house, if it's less, awesome, if it ends up being more than we'd ideally like to pay, well, we'll cross that bridge when we get there. Research is your friend.}:P Still a long way to go though.

In the mean time, I have just under two months to finish the hand embroidered silk scarves I've got planned, the steampunk/clockwork jewelry pieces in the works and the last few themed gaming bags, all for Mysticon. Which is another reason I've decided to drastically cut back on Facebook time. Heh. Distractions are very distracting and time consuming.

To that end, these are in various stages of progress...



Habotai silk scarf, hand dyed and being hand embroidered with an octopus tentacle. Have another ready to go when this is finished that will be hand embroidered with clockwork gears.



The third steampunk/clockwork brooch in the process of being beaded. Also have plans for a steampunk/clockwork charm style bracelet and a couple necklaces.


Need to weave the shells for at least 5 more themed gaming bags and then, do a couple dry runs and see which display set up works best. And put price tags on everything still. Heh.

And as a heads up, sometime over the next few weeks, all gaming bags will be moved to the Square shop. Each will be an individual listing with multiple photos. It'll free up space in the Big Cartel shop and better display the bags themselves.

Fun times. Guess I better go get started, eh?



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Feb. 11th, 2013

So tired.

It's been essentially nonstop since Friday. And not going to be much better for this week either.

Friday, I packed up nearly every book in the bedroom. 7 boxes worth. And we're not talking small boxes either. One I couldn't move by myself and neither could Mark, it took both of us.

Then I moved 2 3 shelf, 3 foot long bookcases, 5 shelf book case, both end tables, the pseudoclock/bookshelf, and miscellaneous odds and ends.

When he got home, we moved the last box, and he took apart the bed. That night, we slept on the mattress set on the floor- after vacuuming the carpet for a last time again.

Sat saw us moving the mattress set out, after we took the drawers out of the dresser and chest of drawers, then we moved them, the upstairs TV and cable box to the center of the room, covered with plastic and primed the walls and ceiling with Kilz. The outside walls were done twice. The areas were the mold/mildew was, was done in three coats. Luckily the topcoats of actual color will also be mildew resistant. If that doesn't stop it, nothing will.

Then the dressers were moved and the mattresses put back down for the night.

Sunday, I took Caena over to the InLaws so the dust and potential mold/mildew spores that may have been in the carpet wouldn't irritate her when we were tearing the carpet out. She had a puppy play date in other words. She's looking immensely better and it's only been 2 weeks since we got rid of the mold/mildew. Note to self- give her a bath today.

When I got home, Mark had moved the mattresses and started in on the carpet. 3/4 was gone already, bagged up and out of the house. Between the 2 of us it took another 3 hours to get the rest out, get the staples out of the floor, pull up the tack strips and nails, then scrub the floor twice, mop it again for good measure, moving the dressers, TV and cable box twice in the process and then, finally dropping the mattresses back on the floor again.

Needless to say, the cats are freaked out right now, especially Aries.

This week, I paint the room. I like to paint, so no biggie doing it by myself. Mark will help with the ceiling. (Valspar Waverly Classics Blue Sail for the wall, Nordic Blue for the trim and Blue Boy for the ceiling, from Lowes. )

Sometime this summer, we'll see about renting a floor sander and sanding the wood floors up there, they are that screwed up in a few areas. Doing it by hand is out of the question. Then we'll restain and seal it to match the downstairs and hallway.

Then we get to do the back bedroom. Whee fun. If we ever own our own house again, we'll be pros at this.

I don't think my body remembers how NOT to ache or be stiff anymore.}:/ And to top it off, yesterday I woke up with a slightly sore throat. *sigh* And thanks to being so worn out, I'm constantly seeing Max out of the corner of my eye, laying on the floor right behind my chair. It's disconcerting to say the least.



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Feb. 20th, 2012

The Kitchen Project, part 2

So after we finished the ceiling, we started on the walls.



Valspar Signature Colors, National Trust for Historic Preservation Colors, Green Tea Leaves, # 5004-1c in semigloss for the walls, 2 coats and Valspar Signature Colors, Waverly Classics, Smooth Pebble, #WV36006 in semigloss, 2 coats for the trim.

The walls are actually lighter than they look in some photos, more of a sage green, and everything reflects the light beautifully as well as compliments the other colors.

More! )
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Feb. 17th, 2012

The Kitchen Project, part 1

So, last Friday, we started on the last stages of the kitchen remodel. If you remember, last August, the back wall had to be rebuilt, and the backdoor was replaced.

At that time, we went ahead and primed the walls and ceiling for painting. And that's where it stayed until this month.

So, last Friday we had friends over and they helped move every appliance we couldn't move by ourselves out of the kitchen and into the living room. Sat we prepped for painting- cleaning up any dust, touching up the primer, that sort of thing.

PEEKCTURES! )
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