Saturday, October 25, 2008

Househunting: Take 2

First the good news: Our Houston house is in escrow!

Good sale price, and we anticipate closing the first week in December. Thank you all so much for praying of the sale of our house, and for God keeping our house safe during Hurricane Ike.

But...this means that we must now get serious about finding a place here.

The good news for us is that the home prices here are dropping daily. I looked at a house yesterday and this morning the price had dropped $20,000.

More good news: My new real estate agent Luanne is terrific! We looked at 22 properties in the last 24 hours, and it felt like being on a road trip with a good friend, with lots of yakking and laughing and enjoying all the fall colors around us as we drove between the houses I was seeing.

Right now we are focusing on houses somewhat close to downtown. That means older homes, and since ALL I am really interested in is getting a good mountain view, it also means I get to see a lot of houses that are real doozies.

I have to share the crazy fun of what some of the houses have to offer:

Do you like the marble on this vanity? The wall mounted pink toilet was a PERFECT match! And ONE of the lights above the sink still worked!

How about seeing this wall paper to wake you up each morning?
(If you are LDS and can't have coffee, I guess this would be the next best thing....)

Imagine you open the front door on another house and that this is the first thing you see.
Yes, gold veined mirror was BIG here at one point, and some folks forgot to take it back down once the craze was over.

But wait!

Don't let the mirrors bother you. Just look down instead....

Yes, right inside the front door below the mirror is this opportunity to descend down, down...down....into the brown unknown.

(I didn't bother to go downstairs; the view from the top didn't cut it with me. I was pretty sure the basement view wouldn't have been an improvement!)

If your bed looks like a tree, why shouldn't your room look like a squirrel's nest? ALL the rooms in the house were layered in cast off clothing.
I was nervous a body might be found under all the mess.

How could anyone sleep with a wallpaper ready to part and expose the hidden terrors of this place?

Which of course would be this.
But then again...aren't all laundry rooms terrifying?
I think is just terrifying that how no matter how much laundry I do, the next moment there always seems to be more laundry...and this room seems designed to underscore that madness.

As I mentioned earlier, seeing the fall colors really brightens the house hunting experience.
Isn't this Japanese maple just absolutely amazing???
It is like a bush on fire!
Inside the house we found out that the bush wasn't the only "on fire" thing about the house. Luanne cracked me up: "Oh look! She must cook like I cook!"

This house was done mostly in Joan Collins silvery pink with crystal chandeliers EVERYWHERE, with gold leaf everything, and New Orleans-like wrought iron, only it all was painted gold instead of black.


With gold shag carpets.

Double ewww...

Gold shag carpet SQUARES with boxes of replacement squares still at the ready!

Hmmmm....maybe the gold shag carpet would work after all....why tear it all up when with just a little effort we could patch-patch-patch it right back up to 1960s style glory?

Same house....any one want to guess what this door is all about???
Maybe it would be better not to know.
Maybe we would sleep better at night if we never actually find out.
(For the record...I did see some nice houses, but seriously, aren't these pictures a lot more fun?)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Crawling the Mall (warning: rants included)

If you go out the front door of the apartment, turn left, walk one block, turn right, walk three blocks you will come to this:

The Gateway Mall, with all the typical mall stores in a beautiful park like setting.

The mall sprawls over three city blocks and has two stories of shops to consider.
Last Friday I ventured over there to explore the new fall fashions and to get an idea of what folks around here might be buying and wearing to work and play.

While I was there I was thinking how much more fun it would be to have a girlfriend or two to be with, to point out and discuss designer details, colors, styles, and prices.

So consider yourself recruited for the outing.
I will warn you that there is (again!) lots of water falls and running streams throughout, so if you need to take a little break before we get going, I totally understand.

A man made stream flows throughout the entire mall. And if that isn't enough, several of the stores (J.Jill, Coldwater Creek) had waterfalls INSIDE their stores too. I wondering if this a form of humidifying the dry air environment or if everyone just likes to see running water here.
It is very pretty....
"The Gateway" is located at the edge of the city. There is another center south of town with the Sears/Macy's/Penney's stores. Another strip center has the Target/Ross/Marshall's combo. So there are plenty of shopping opportunities in town.

SLC does have a goodly number of children; accordingly there are provisions for keeping the tykes amused. A plaza with randomly squirting water jets has the kids squealing with delight, and it also provided occasional bursts of steam.

I overheard someone saying the steam was just for the Halloween season.
I hope she is wrong about that...the steam clouds are such fun to run through without really getting your clothes all soaked!

Along the way were signs recognizing Breast Cancer Awareness month. I don't personally know the women who were being honored, but I could imagine that they had rather busy lives at one point, and in a single moment, everything changed in their world.

I am really sick of the fact that breast cancer is so rampant, and so random as well. I'm glad the mall honored women by name. Their determination to battle for wellness and life is certainly worth celebrating.

OK, let's start looking around. Isn't this a great idea? A little vest front, perfect to wear under a suit jacket without adding bulk.
That would be fun to sew...wouldn't take much could whip up a bunch of them in no time.
(The drawback of knowing how to always talk yourself out of buying something because it would be so easy to sew...and usually it isn't, and takes so much more time to gather up the supplies, patterns etc. that just buying the thing in the first place would have been a real bargain at any price!)
A window display with huge paperclips bunching up jeans.
Do you get it?
I don't get it.

I know that store frequently use the clips to hold back clothing on mannequins, to make loose fitting blouses and sweaters look form fitting, but this?

Nope, I just don't get it. did make me look.
I guess you could call that good merchandise display then.

Apparently this store is selling 14 year old boys.
Normally I would expect a clothing store to sell clothes, and that they would put their clothing on their models so you might become interested in purchasing the clothing.
This picture: Do you see any clothing?
I don't see any clothing.
Or enough clothing to figure out if I might be interested in buying the clothing.
He looks like a really nice kid though.
I wonder how much he costs, and if he will take out the trash without being asked more than twice.

(This is a window display at A&F. I have issues with A&F anyway, serious issues on so many levels. They have a business practice of hiring very young adults and then they require them to wear the A&F brand of clothing while working less than enough hours to get insurance benefits, while practically mandating that the young adult run up a tab for overpriced clothes. And don't get me started on how they pose their barely past puberty models in print ads to suggest inappropriate sexual behavior.)

So like do they switch it out so next week or next month the Small and Extra Small folks have to find a "teammate" who will haul out stuff from the back room if they want to try on some coats?

That would seem only fair to me.

Or maybe they could just put one of each size out for each style, and EVERYONE will have to ask the Teammate to go get the item out of the back for purchase.

That would make all clothing "sample" and you could buy fresh items that are not shop worn, AND not offend anyone in the process.

Just an idea.

And while we are at it: the popular merchandising technique of stacking clothing on shelves, the tiny sizes on top and the larger sizes on the bottom means that I have to lift a (heavy) stack of sweaters or pants or whatever every time I want to get something in my size.

Once I have one item in my arm, I am then working with just one hand to lift the HEAVY stack.
It always results in messing up the pile.

I used to feel bad about that. Like me shopping made so much more work for the sales people.

Finally it dawned on me: They are being paid to work there.

I am NOT being paid to shop there.
And their practice of stacking clothes creates a hardship on me.

Now I just flip the pile over, and remove the large size that is now ON TOP, and leave the pile so sorted.
Works for me, and I no longer feel guilty about doing so.

If that is a problem for them, maybe they can switch the stacking order regularly so everyone can take their turn at being bothered.

Or maybe even declare "Sizing Preference Weeks: The first week of the month is for size small only. Second week size medium, third size large, and the last week of the month is size extra large.
The occasional fifth week/weekend will be for size XS and XXL.

Many stores now have Petite sections, but never a size Tall in the store. If you ask (and I do....) I am told that there are Tall sized items in their catalogue.

(Read: Run along home, find our website, order from there, and be prepared to race down to the shipping center to return it if it doesn't suit. We don't care if that is inconvenient to you, or if you don't have computer are big, you must be tough, you can take the abuse!)

I love details. Another store (with a name that starts with an A and has an "o" and a "g" at the end of it) had lots of cute clothes with interesting details like these embellishments on a sweater.
Yes I know...I can hear you thinking : I could do that..that would be easy. I could use scraps and whip that up and put it on my old grey pull over sweater. Or even a sweatshirt....
Of course you could!
And at a fraction of the cost too!
Be sure to send me a picture of it when you are done!
(Yeh, right...)
Another DIY project: Take one dark gray or black wool coat. Get out your crochet hook and some really garish yellow colored yarn, and get cracking on this project.
Cuter than heck...but seriously, would you want your dress coat to have this kind of detail on it?
One moment I'm thinking yes, the next moment, well, no, no one would take me seriously at work if I skipped in with this trim, at my age.
Oh to be twenty again!
OR five...or have five year old granddaughters who would look adorable with a coat on thus trimmed.

Back to the on going orange theme. Yes, I love it.
Yes, I did buy an orange sweater, a plain one without cable stitching.
Cotton, and I also got a black one, grey, and golden lime green.
If the sweater fits, buy it in every color I say!
More fascinating details.

Now here is a look I could wear and still be taken seriously. What a detail! Silk, hand sewn little pillow like ruching, which are stuffed with something. I know how to do this too...and no way would I attempt to make this myself.
It is gorgeous, but the price way out of my fall wardrobe budget!
My last stop was at Ann T. Loft, where I usually can't find a thing to fit or suit, but this time I hit the jackpot.
All the above mentioned colors of sweaters, plus wool lined grey slacks, white, grey and black cords, a floral patterned cardigan sweater, and four tops. I wasn't actually planning on buying anything, but the prices were great, and everything just worked great.
I still need to get a down coat, probably online, and B. is flying as I type to Houston to get our winter gear.
I don't think I will need to go shopping like this again soon. But if I do, should I give you a call so you can come along too?
I promise I won't rant next time.
And next time we'll do lunch too.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Cranking the colors up...

Jeff's tree three weeks ago...
and now.
Suddenly trees are crayon box bright out there. Trees in the parking lot are taxi cab yellow, trees by the parking garage are stop sign red.

And the mountains above us look as though The Artist had pounced His paint loaded stenciling brush upon the smooth beige slopes, and then He went on to the rest of His project: to color the world Autumn.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Those are SO cute!

One dozen Japanese quail eggs fit easily into a tea cup. Each one a unique design, almost like a found pebble on the beach.

They do hard cook up rather nicely.

Then...surprise! The shell is a lovely blue green color inside.

What a perfect size for a child's tea party, or made as Deviled Eggs for an appetizer.

The Farmer's Market is done.
I like having Quail eggs as a bite sized snack.

Wonder how hard it would be to have a couple of quail out back in a nice little aviary once we get a house again (some day) ?

Anyone out there know any (Japanese Quail) egg farmers who might want to help me get started??????

In case you were wondering, (like AT was in the comments)... the fresh quail eggs taste exactly like chicken eggs, except they seemed just a bit more tender. I've scrambled them and hard cooked them,; both methods gave me a flavorful treat. My daughter LauraRN insists that I am missing the best flavors by cooking them at all.