Friday, November 21, 2008

Dogged by near misses

Well, I went off on another house hunting trip. *

(*actually I saw this house last Friday... )

I figured I'd drag you along again.
Why're not doing anything special right now anyway, right?

Luanne and I had seen some lulus earlier in the day, but then we pulled up in front of this nice and neat ranch style rambler.

Ramblers look a bit understated, but I have learned that out of all the floor plans in SLC, a traditional "ranch style" rambler actually works the best.

In each rambler, you walk into a small entry area right off the living room, and the dining area is just past the living room, and the kitchen is to the side of that, and from the living room and in front of the kitchen area there is always a hallway with three bedrooms and one bath.

There is usually more rooms in different arrangements in the basement, but the top floor is 90% of the time exactly the same.

I've even checked out three library books that are monographs about the house style.

It is truly the American style home, a style first created by a San Diego resident back in the early 1940's. All other house styles have root that are not of the North American continent.

Sorry...a bit of the librarian slipped out there.

A quick check of the neighborhood...oh yeah...GREAT mountains to see out the front window. Hmmm....I really prefer the mountain view be out the back of the house, but I can be flexible on this point.

The view down the street is pretty good too.

I'm not too crazy about the house across the street. It looks like a motel or an apartment building or something. But at least it is nice and neat.

So let's go check this place out.

While we're waiting for our Real Estate Agent Luanne to undo the lock box, we can scope out the landscaping. There is a pretty swath of roses bushes in front of the doorway stoop.

And apparently the home owners like Scotty dogs, as they have placed a small doggie sculpture right in the garden by the front door.

You who have been reading my blog for awhile know that I really enjoy photographing mushrooms.

I must say this was the weirdest mushroom I had ever seen.

And doesn't it look just like the dog has brought the thing proudly home as a gift to his owners?

(Sorry, I was giggling when I spotted this. Sorry. Sorry....couldn't resist getting a picture. I promise it is just as I first saw it, I didn't do a thing to it.)

Take a moment to compose yourself, and then we will go inside.

Now THIS is more like it! The beamed skylight above the table area is a great design feature. I love the glass front cabinet too, and the two tone wood usage in the cabinets.

What a great remodeled kitchen.

To the left of the table and the half wall is the dining area, and off there is a deck that wraps around past the kitchen window.

The view from the kitchen window and deck is pretty great too. You can see both mountains and downtown, including the state capital building.

In the garden below is a vegetable garden and a cute gardening shed. A steamy hot jacuzzi is tucked under the deck; I'm sure the view at sunset and night is just incredible from there.

Not too crazy about the telephone pole, but I know I could get used to that. After a few weeks, you wouldn't even see it anymore.

The Master Bedroom is to the back of the house, just the way I like it. And it has a tiny attached 3/4 bath with great natural looking stone tile. This remodel has been flawlessly done.

You really should look at the rest of the house by clicking here. If for no other reason than to see what it looked like in the snow!

I'll bet you are wondering if this is the house for me.

It isn't.

The price was right, and we loved how they had done everything in the house.

But....there were two sticking points.

One, the Master bedroom was just so small we doubted our California King sized bed (longer than a typical King to accommodate us tall types) would fit and still give us room to walk around the bed into the bathroom.

Normally we could just knock down a wall between the MB and the second bedroom, but with everything just newly done perfectly, we were reluctant to do that.

But the real deal killer for us was the fact that the great valley view from the back of the house, deck and balcony was also a bird's eye view into the three houses down below.

I'm sure those folks could easily become our dearest closest friends, but we just felt reluctant to always be able to see what kind of cereal they were having for breakfast, when they were opening their mail, or loafing in the yard.

I watched an elderly lady pulling weeds and raking leaves in one yard, and in other house I could see a man spooning soup for lunch.

The third house had a swimming pool in the backyard. Could be tons of kids, could be a fat hairy man in a speedo, or it could be a curvaceous bikini wearing bombshell that would be enjoying that pool all summer.

We might or might not enjoy having that particular kind of view from our balcony, deck, kitchen and bedroom.

Bernie and I went back to that house again on Saturday when there was an open house. We sat next to the fireplace, and talked together in the kitchen, trying to decide if the loveliness of the house could possibly outweigh the surrender of visual privacy.

In the end...we decided it didn't.

So as the sun sank slowly in the west, we bade the almost perfect house farewell.

And knew we would live to house hunt yet another day.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Tuesday NIght Date Night..

Our son forwarded an email from his girlfriend, flagging us that the author of this book was going to be speaking at The King's English Bookstore here in town.

She had become aware of our mission to find a house that wasn't big enough to house a small university, and thought we might enjoy hearing what the author had to say about the idea of living both "small" AND "smart".

Sounded like a perfect off we went to see what we could see.

King's English is in an adorable cottage-y part of town.

The talk took place upstairs in the children's books room.
(It felt like old home week to me...I was a school librarian in the past and also focused on Children's literature in grad school. It was wonderful to see old favorites and new titles by some of my favorite authors.)

I saw this new title, and it made me think of Lovella of course.

(Can't wait till the 'Lil Farm Hand can start going ratting along with the rest of the family someday....Lovella...wouldn't this be just the PERFECT lap book to read to him?)

Anyway, back to the talk on Smart Houses. The author is an architect/engineer who built a perfect efficient house for her mom to live in, but sadly her mom had to move to assisted living anyway.
The author then moved into that space, and applied her professional training to addressing the question of how to best outfit a house for efficiency while being mindful of space usage.
She started the book ten years before the big "Green" movement, and she is somewhat astonished to find that her "sustainable" thinking on such things as sheets and mattresses is now quite hip.
I found her thinking about such things as sheets and mattresses as related to the nightly "freezing I'im baking" challenges of menopausal/postmenopausal womanhood to be very insightful.
She lists 98 items that a house should have, (assuming you do not bake food, her publisher made her create a separate list for the "must bake" crowd.)
Bernie and I are enjoying considering her ideas, and finding ourselves right on board with most of her suggestions. She is quite witty as she goes about deconstructing why we have been sold on the idea of anything labeled "plush", and why AND how we became wired to think of acquiring new or seasonal items constantly, (such as sheets and dishes).
Bernie and I have enjoyed our "Baronial" phase of life in Texas, where furniture and serving pieces and EVERYTHING was bigger and bigger.
Now we are thinking more along the lines of "plain and simple" "will last forever" "won't take up space/easy to move" and definitely NOT grand.
I have mentioned that I raised our kids in a 1,100 sq. ft. house, with a one car garage and no laundry room or basement, haven't I?
I really do know how to live small and efficient.
(and we actually begged our Texas real estate agents to show us small houses...our Kingwood house actually was quite small by Texas standards.)
I think a lot of us boomers are ready to rethink our housing and to make some decisions about our abodes. The Internet has loads of articles about downsizing...and the MegaMcMansions are languishing unsold in many locations.
The thinking is a work in progress with us...but it certainly did provide us with an opportunity to get out and have some fun at the local book store.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Breaking news: They got it wrong.

People Magazine has just named Hugh Jackman as the Sexiest Man Alive.
(read all about it here.)

Nice try...and yes, Hugh is definitely a hottie...but as a professional information specialist let me caution you that People magazine has always been a questionable information resource.

For the record: My husband is the Sexiest Man Alive.

You heard it here first.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Wanna come with me to see a house?

I know some of you out there are thinking how much fun it would be to go house hunting with me.
So I thought I'd give you a chance to experience what I experience as I go about hunting for a house for Bernie and I to live in.

This particular house that we are going to visit was listed at $319,000, a real steal, and more importantly, the listing noted that it had a MOUNTAIN view. I am all about mountain let's head out and see if this just might be the house we've been looking for!

As we pull up, we get to see the "mountain view".

(Hmmmm...I'm thinking "hill view" but then again, maybe there is a mountain view from inside. )
Kinda of cute...I like the balcony, and the windows on the garage door. I like the nice neutral paint job.

Looks like we're going to have to hike up a bit to the front door though.
Pretty low maintenance landscaping, and it smells nice too. Sort of pine/juniper.
The walk way up to the front door is steep, and buckled.
But that can always be fixed, right?
The black double front door with white trim is pretty cool.
When the door is opened....we see a wall of folding shutter type doors.
Which way should we go now?
Should we turn left or right?
(Bernie turned left, I turned right.)
Oh wow! A right turn and two steps and you are at the kitchen door. The kitchen is in the center of the house.
And check it out: See through yellow plastic above the dark wood cabinets.
Very innovative.
The plain white counter tops are a good balance for the cheery multicolored wall paper.

An excellent harvest gold double oven and range, with a highly useful griddle between the burners. And TWENTY assorted mugs at the ready for whenever nineteen coffee drinking guests drop by unexpectedly to drink coffee with me.
(I wonder if there is a story behind each and everyone of those mugs...)

And check this out: A built in radio in the kitchen wall.
I do enjoy a little talk radio and country western music while I cook. This would be JUST the thing to make me want to get into cooking more.

Well the kitchen certainly is a hit. Naturally if I am going to be cooking a lot so I have an excuse to listen to the radio, I might as well have people over to dine with us.

After all, nineteen coffee drinkers would probably like to be invited to sit down for a meal occasionally.

Ahhh...a dining room that would suit every one's taste.
A crystal chandelier for the fancy-schmancy types that like to serve meals on fine china.
Plus black vinyl modern chairs for the hip folks who think that sort of chair is mod.
And the faux wood tone table for those who long for a nice wooden top table, but want to be able to serve drinks that might sweat, without worrying about any white moisture rings.
(I take a moment to imagine all the festive holiday dinners that could be served at this table.)
Speaking of holidays....Christmas is coming, and what is Christmas without a place to hang up your Christmas stockings for Santa to fill?
Gosh...the former owners must have been very, very bad. It looks like Santa just kept bringing them lumps of coal, and they used the coal to built a fire place!
(I do appreciate the decorative touches that have been neatly arranged on the hearth. It is that kind of thoughtfulness that just makes a house feel homey.

Ohhhh....deep shag rug, in pea soup green! Gosh I loved that when I was first married. We had that exact same style of carpet in our first apartment, except it was orange.
I remember that after you vacuumed it, you then also had to rake it.
I wonder if this house would come with a rug rake?
I'm not sure where you could go to buy one now...

Thinking of dinner guest....time to check out the guest powder room.
Say...that is such lovely wall covering! Expensive stuff.

The hanging glowing egg is such an elegant touch, and check out the pull out spray nozzle on the sink.
You know, that sure would be handy for guest who want to quickly wash their hair between dinner and dessert.
Interesting glass work by the bedrooms.

Now it took a moment but I did eventually remember to look at the window coverings.
Window coverings can get to be very expensive; if there are window coverings that come with the home it can save me a lot of money.

This curtain in the dining room certainly is cheery.
Especially perfect since you can see it from the equally cheery kitchen!

But I am even more fond of the red drapery with black tassel trim.
I'm getting a belly dancing vibe going here, and you know how much I love belly dancing!

I do like these double doors too. The sunny medallion detail is just plain cute as all get out.
Now I suppose you are wondering what this structure is all about.

Here's a different view- it is the stair case going down to the basement, and overhead is the stair case going UP stairs.
(If you scroll back to the dining table shot, you can see the stairway as a pea green diagonal in the back ground.)

At this point we are going to leave Bernie upstairs. He tried going down the stairs, but the upstairs stairs are too low...he would go thunk..thunk...thunk with his forehead on each of the steps above as he went down to the basement.

That thick green shag has been felted down in two straight lines.
That helps makes it easier to tell where your feet should go.

So downstairs there is another cheerful bathroom. This one isn't quite so elegant, but it does give you something brown to read while you, uh, wait for something....uh...brown I guess.
This home owner did not miss a single decorating beat.
They painted the door and floor time to perfectly match the toilet and sink.
This is why I am thankful that I have had an opportunity to visit 75 houses now in the quest to find my own perfect house.
If I hadn't seen it here, it would never have occurred to me to paint door and floor trim in a shade to match the toilet.
The basement has a neat fireplace. Very strong and masculine. Perfect for a cold winter's night in the basement.
This I seriously do like.
Sort of...
And what could be better than playing pool in the basement?
Nothing except knowing that the PERFECT lamp has been found to enhance the pool playing experience.

I'm drifting back to belly dancing vibe here.
Pool table and belly dancing.
Totally works.

So lovely....
So exotic.
Wherever can such a beautiful lamp be found for other pool table/belly dancing rooms?

They must have really had to shop hard to find a window covering that would pull all this together perfectly.

Well, we should head on back upstairs to see what Bernie and my Real Estate agent Luanne is doing.
She has told me that she is a terrible cook.
But this stove...well, maybe with this stove it would be different.
Sadly, we never did find a mountain view from the house.
I looked both high and low.
One time when I was looking high, I saw this great little ceiling lamp in the hall way.
I was so busy staring at it, I almost didn't notice the asbestos cottage cheese acoustical ceiling.
(at least the house would be quiet. Dead quiet...)
So, whaddah think?
Should we buy it?
You've got to admit:
It was a house with something for everyone.
I just don't think it had something for me.
(Like good taste, or more importantly, a mountain view!)