House hunting, dead cars, and quilting

Well, we’re still house hunting. We’ve made offers on 5 houses now and each one has fallen through. It’s a bit disappointing and discouraging because in every case the sellers have gone with offers that are made by investors. People who have no intention of living in these houses or contributing to these neighborhoods. Instead, they plan to rent the houses out at the very least, or maybe even flip them.

I really do worry about what that does to the community and neighborhood that these sellers are leaving behind. I mean, yeah, the seller gets an all-cash offer without having to pass through contingencies, but at what cost to others?

The thing is that we’re offering over the asking prices with 20% down on a pre-approved loan. We just can’t compete against someone offering all cash and waiving all contingencies. In one case the seller wanted to see at least 50% of the purchase price in cash in the bank. Seriously! I wanted to be snippy and say that if I had that much money in the bank, I sure as hell wouldn’t be buying in that community! But I didn’t. Instead we responded that the offer is as stands.

One of my coworkers said that a house went up for sale down the street from her. The sellers were asking $490,000. They had 15 offers, one of which was $530,000 cash with no contingencies and another was $540,000 financed while waiving the appraisal contingency. My coworker said that the house was a dump and should never have sold for that price… but it did.

And now house prices are going up again. Interest rates are still super low and the inventory is low as well. Those two things combined mean that demand is high so prices are high. It also means that things are selling super quickly – I’ve heard that the average time on the market for houses in our area is 7 days. Can you believe it? A week and your house is sold.

Add into that, now, that my car died. Yes, my beloved Saturn SL2 that I bought with money left from my Dad’s death finally croaked. I donated it to the Polly Klaas Foundation, so at least it went to a good cause. But now we’re a one car household. It’s not nearly as much fun as it sounds. A new car is not an expense that I really wanted quite yet.

Oh well… This is kind of a Debbie Downer of a post, but it’s what’s going on right now.

I did finish a couple of quilts.

This Black & White one I made for my friend/coworker J. It took a long time to piece and quilt – about 20 hours total. The back is Minky, which is kind of a pain to work with, but it all worked out.

The Front of J's Quilt just after I finished

The Front of J’s Quilt just after I finished

 

The border and closeup of the squares

The border and closeup of the squares

 

J's Quilt on her Sofa

J’s Quilt on her Sofa

 

I also finished this wall quilt with an Asian flair.  I got all of the fabrics and the pattern on clearance when my favorite quilt store closed.  It didn’t take too long to piece and quilt, maybe 6 or 7 hours total.  The most finicky part was making sure I had the center cut and pieced properly.  The most annoying and time consuming part was hand stitching the rod pocket on the back.  Have I mentioned how much I hate hand stitching?  This will be hung in my office at work – the colors actually go really well!  I call it “Peacocks and Peonies.”

Front

Front

Back

Back

Detail

Detail

Diagonal

Diagonal

 

So that’s it for now…

Small Change

Remember how at the beginning of the year, I posted that one of my goals was to complete 1 quilting or sewing project each month? I’ve been doing really well with that, right? Well, I’m going to have to amend that goal.

I’d defined “complete” as being completely ready to use or gift… all the way down to the label and binding being attached. But here’s the thing: DH and I are planning to buy a house within the next few months. We know that whatever home we buy will need some kind of work, even if it’s just paint and floors. So, to afford these future costs, we’re cutting expenses now and putting that money aside.

I’m still planning on finishing quilt tops. I have a lot of fabric that’s set aside for specific projects. I just don’t have enough fabric for backing so that I can actually complete the quilts.

So that’s it… just a little change to the terms of my goals… 🙂

August 2012 Project Sneak Peek

Here’s a sneak peek of one of my August 2012 projects. I’m calling it the “Us Quilt.” Each of the squares has a different novelty fabric that represents something DH or I do/like. It’s not done yet (I just pinned the quilt sandwich together), so there aren’t any closeups.

I need to get it done before our anniversary on August 22. DH knows about this project so I can post it online. He reads my blog so I can’t post the other, already finished, project since that one’s a surprise.

Here it is – a view from my staircase.

20120810-140624.jpg

On Hold: Superman Quilt

I was so excited to find my Superman fabric back in March during a Shop Hop.  I had even received a FREE pattern from a previous store that I thought would be perfect with it.  I carefully selected all of my fabrics and brought the treasures home.

This weekend I finally had time to cut and sew the top.  I followed the cutting directions, which said to fussy cut 12 blocks from the focus fabric and 12 blocks from the accent block fabric measuring 5.5 inches.  Then I cut the strips and squares for the “frames” around the blocks.  I learned how to make half-square triangles, and got those all together.

Then it came time to assemble the blocks with the focus and accent fabrics.  I discovered late Saturday night that the pattern really meant that I should cut 12 blocks from the focus fabric for each frame fabric that I will be using.  So, it really should have said 36 blocks.  I didn’t have enough Superman fabric to cut another 24 squares.

I was sooooo mad!  I looked back at the fabric requirements to make sure that I didn’t mis-read what I was supposed to buy.  Nope.  It said “enough focus fabric for 12 fussy cut squares”.  The cutting directions truly said “fussy cut 12 squares measuring 5.5 inches”.  ARGH!  And the quilt store I bought the fabric from doesn’t have any more!

I found the same fabric on eBay for $11/yard.  I don’t have another $100 to spend on special fabric, so I thought I’d look around for something that would blend with the rest of it.  Then I found fabric.com – they had the fabric I needed for $8/yard AND they had other Superman fabrics that would coordinate with it!  Plus, the coordinating fabric is printed in such a way that I could order less yardage and still get the right number of squares.  Score!  So I ordered 3 yards of 2 different coordinating fabrics and got free shipping because my order was over $35.  Double score!

So, the Superman quilt is on hold until I receive and wash the new fabric.  In the mean time I’m working on a stash-buster twister quilt.  If it turns out really nice, I’ll probably give it to someone as a Christmas gift.  The colors keep making me think of DH’s grandma, but I’ll have to see if I still think of her once it’s finished.

Laundry Blues

I’ve got the laundry blues… but not in the way you think.  For most people, the laundry blues are caused by the fact that they have laundry to do.  For me, it’s because my washer and dryer are never available for me to use.  I know you’ve all heard me complain about this before: one washer and dryer for four households to share.  If people aren’t considerate it can be a nightmare to get your laundry done.  I know of at least one neighbor who packs their laundry up and goes to a laundromat to avoid the headache.

I’m lucky, in a way, because I have the ability to do laundry at my mom’s house when I take care of her on Fridays.  I really don’t like doing it though.  It just feels weird sometimes.  And other times I just don’t want to stay there that long.  But ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

I’m only bringing this up (again) because I have all of this beautiful fabric to wash, cut up and sew back together… with no means to wash it in the first place.  Our laundry room is in use again.  So now I have to wait until tomorrow when I’m at my mom’s to wash fabric and clothes.

It’s actually one of the biggest reasons for us to buy a house, besides getting away from the murderers, thieves and thugs that we know as “neighbors”.  The washer and dryer are a household appliance that I lust after.  A decent stove is another.  Oh yeah, and a working heater.  *sigh* the things I’d do if I owned this place.

Well, that will change soon.  We’re on our way to home ownership, hopefully sometime this summer but definitely by the end of the year.  I just have to be patient until then, right?

Quilter’s March Madness Shop Hop

It’s been a few days since I last posted, mostly because I’ve been on the road!  I know I could have scheduled posts to magically show up, and you folks wouldn’t have been the wiser…  but it felt like cheating, ya know?  What was I doing that was so important that I couldn’t blog?  Shop Hopping!

For those of you who aren’t in the know, a shop hop is this thing that crazy people do.  Well not crazy, exactly.  Just people who want an excuse to go to multiple quilt stores over the course of a few days and hang out with fellow quilters.  There are chances to win prizes along the way too!  I love shop hops.  They’re something my sister and I can do together while reinforcing creativity and creation.  But shop hops are not all fun and games.  They require lots of planning, timing, and dedication.  After all, you only have a few days to visit a lot of shops!  This particular shop hop had 22 stores spread across northern California.  We visited Antioch, Brentwood, Ceres, Concord, Danville, Fairfield, Fremont (2 stores), Gilroy, Hollister (my favorite!), Livermore, Manteca, Martinez, Morgan Hill (2 stores), Oakdale, San Carlos, San Mateo, Tracy, Turlock, Vacaville, and Winters.  I’ll write another post later to tell you about the stores individually.

I’m sure you’re all dying to know what I bought.  I’m so excited to show you!

Us Quilt

Us Quilt

The fabric above is for something called an “us quilt.”  A lot of people make quilts that are about a specific person.  They typically include things that the person collects, does for a living, hobbies, etc.  This one is an us quilt, so it includes things that DH and I enjoy, do, work at and value.  They’re along the outside and are full of crazy colors.  For DH there’s rain, Pez, conversation hearts, a computer, coffee and bbq.  For me there’s books, ice cream, sewing, cocktails, pinup girl and family values.  What usually ends up happening is that all the crazy colors/fabrics end up working together to form one cohesive style/color value.  With ours… not so much.  It was actually pretty challenging to find five fabrics that worked with everything (those are in the middle).  I know it looks a bit insane, but it’ll work.  I’ll show you when I’m done!  I didn’t buy any backing because I think I’m going to use Minkee fabric and make it cozy instead.  It would be nice for cuddling under that way.

Superman!

Superman!

I also found some of the most awesome fabric ever – Superman!  I was so excited that I was dancing in the quilt store.  You see: Superman is my boyfriend and has been since I was 5 years old.  DH and I have an understanding 😉

The plan for this fabric is to “fussy cut” squares around the Superman figures on the bottom left fabric, use the logo fabric as a wide border and the comic book fabric as the backing.  The other fabrics will be used as borders around the fussy cut Superman figures.  I can’t tell you how excited I am about this quilt!

Oh yeah!  And I also got the backing for my African/giraffe quilt that’s almost done.  All I have to do with that one is piece the backing, make sure I have the right amount of batting, and then get it quilted.  I’m tempted to try the quilting myself, but I’m scared I’ll wreck my awesome quilt top.  What do you think I should do?  Get it quilted or try to machine quilt it myself?  My attention span won’t allow for hand quilting.

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