Monday, April 27, 2009

First House

So as you can tell from our previous posts we've embraced our (mostly) blissful domestication and are under contract for our first house.

Since our offer was accepted I've driven past the house about once a week just because. It helps that the house is only a few minutes from our apartment. (Hopefully they haven't noticed the black saab driving by every week!) I was glad to see that this week they finally put up the "Under Contract" sign.

Whats very odd is that up to about 2 years ago I would've said you were crazy if you told me I would be living in the suburbs in a house like this. I had no interest in a traditional house with its picket fence, a dog, or 2.5 kids. I was completely set on us living abroad or at the very least an urban loft somewhere. Look at us now! No kids, but the thought doesn't consistently send me screaming from the room like it once did. Funny how time can change things.

We've had a lot of fun so far buying the house and thinking about what we would like to do with it and really no major panic attacks to speak of so far. Hopefully that means we're making the right decision for us now!


An interesting wrinkle to our floor-purchasing adventures on Sunday was the fact that we do not own a truck or SUV. There quite simply was no way we could possibly transport 22 six-foot-long boxes of flooring materials in either of our small sedans. And since this was a clearance sale, we had to get our purchase off the lot by 6 PM that day - Lumber Liquidators was not willing to hold it for later pickup. 

Fortunately, our friend John offered very kindly to let us borrow his Toyota Tundra pickup on short (i.e., no) notice. Unfortunately, he needed it back by 6:30 PM that evening, so we needed to hurry, as it was already after 3:30 by this point!

While both vehicles are Toyotas, it turns out there's a world of difference between driving my Corolla and John's Tundra. I could feel my testosterone levels rising the moment I hoisted myself up into the drivers seat and sat behind the wheel of the truck. Before long I found myself grunting a lot and saying things like "I will crush you, puny Nissan!"... but that's another story. Still, I had no doubt that my newly elevated manliness was making me irresistible to Heather.

We got home with a truck full of flooring at about 5:20, which by our calculations meant that we had about 20 minutes to unload all 22 boxes, carry them up the flight of stairs to our apartment, and stash them somewhere where they wouldn't be too much in the way for the next month and a half. 

One of the many amazing things about Heather is how freaking capable she is. Not only did she quickly identify a number of out-of-the-way places to stash the boxes, but she unloaded at least half of the boxes herself, including carrying each one up a flight of stairs singlehandedly in 90°+ weather. I had to work hard just to keep up with her!

In the end, we got all of the boxes unloaded in about 25 minutes and made it back to Garner to return the truck with a few minutes to spare - success!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Weekend adventures and insights

The wealth of information available on the Internet is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, it is possible to learn about nearly any topic online. On the other hand, if the topic is a subjective one (such as, hypothetically speaking, "Does bamboo make a good flooring material that holds up well to daily traffic and the antics of wild schnauzers?"), one can spend hours studying the topic, reading opinion after opinion after opinion, and come away with nothing more than a headache and an increased sense of uncertainty. And on the gripping hand, for such subjective topics, it seems to be inevitable that whatever opinion one begins the search with, 80% of the content thus encountered will tend to express the opposite opinion. (Again, just as a hypothetical example, if one begins the search believing that bamboo is in fact a good flooring material, the vast majority of search results will express that bamboo is crap that scratches if you so much as look at it sideways and will make you rue the day you ever installed it...)

This is especially problematic for me, as I have an unfortunate tendency to believe that the Internet Google can answer any question (even truly subjective ones) if only I can manage to specify the correct set of keywords. Thus it is that I have spent about 10 hours over the last three days researching the topic of flooring materials (primarily cork and bamboo, but also laminate, hardwood, etc.), resulting only in the aforementioned headache and uncertainty. 

To try and actually make some real progress on this issue, we set out on Saturday to visit some of the floor stores in the area. And by fortunate coincidence, this weekend turned out to be the annual clearance sale at Lumber Liquidators. They happened to have both cork (a pretty pattern with reddish grains) and bamboo (like this) on clearance for less than $2 per square foot. We liked the appearance and the quantity of both floors. However, since this was a clearance sale, the floors were only available until Sunday (i.e., one day after we first visited the store.)

Now, if you know me and Heather, you know that we don't like to be hurried into making decisions. You probably also know that when rushed, our most common decision is to not make a decision - that is, to simply wait until the decision is made for us by timing-related factors beyond our control. So by default, we would almost certainly choose between the two floors by not choosing at all, and end up with neither floor when the sale ended. Easy, right?

Well, if you know us, you also know that we don't like to think of ourselves as being predictable, and we both can be a bit contrary. When we realized what we would probably end up doing, we realized that simply wouldn't do. Thus, at 3:30 Sunday afternoon, we were back at Lumber Liquidators, picking out the floor that we would buy. 

So now we have 680 square feet (22 boxes) of bamboo flooring stashed in every nook and cranny of our apartment. It may be a little crowded around here for the next month and a half, but we made a decision, and now we'll have nice looking floors in our new house - or will we? Maybe I should Google that...

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Floor plans and furniture layouts

One of the most important questions when buying a new house is "Where the heck will we put all of our stuff?" Fortunately, the current owners were kind enough to provide a floor plan of the house, so I took the practical approach to this question. By which, I mean that on Friday, I scanned the floor plan into the computer, resized it in Photoshop to a scale of 1" = 2 feet, then printed it all out on half a dozen sheets of paper and glued them to a piece of foam core. (That's practical, right?) Then, armed with a tape measure, I made to-scale cutouts of our various pieces of furniture, allowing us to easily visualize what will fit where:

Not surprisingly, it was quickly clear that some of our stuff won't fit where we were expecting to fit it, so there was much shuffling of little pieces of blue paper on Friday night. (Yes, we're wild party animals!) We still haven't figured out quite where we're going to put a few things (the entertainment center and a few of our bookshelves in particular), so we'll have this thing sitting around our living room for a while longer at least. 

Being the geek that I am, of course, I've been thinking about future uses for my handiwork:

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Lets try this out

So since we've done a half-way decent job at twittering for the last 6 months (nevermind that we utterly fail at facebook), we thought we might be able to handle a *real* blog. And, since neither of us can claim a good memory as a particular strength of ours I like the idea of having something to look back on. 

Life has been pretty crazy for us the last 2 months. We're in the middle of buying our first house which is super exciting and totally scary. (I'm sure there will be lots more about that in later posts) We've also just got back from visiting Ireland for a week and Las Vegas in March. Another reason to start this blog now when we actually have something interesting going on unlike the other 10 months out of the year.. ;-) 

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

And so it begins...

Hello, world!

This is our blog, for us, for our family and friends, and for anyone else who may be interested in reading. Heather and I will be using this blog to record our experiences, observations, and thoughts as we experience, observe, and think them. 

So let's get started!