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 #2

I got my hands on the second project I made in August.  I wanted to make sure that DH had something he could take with him that was useful and still fit with the cotton theme of our second anniversary, so I made him a case for his Kindle Fire.  I picked up the pattern, fabric and accessories from my LQS (local quilting store).  The lining is flannel, so it’s nice and soft against the Kindle’s screen.  It has two different interfacings – including a stiff one to lend some structure to the case.  And of course, a carrying handle so you can wrap the case around your wrist if there isn’t enough room in your bag for it.

This is the front of the case. The black band is an elastic band to help hold the cover closed. There’s also velcro underneath to make sure the flap is secure.

This is the back of the case. I’m not thrilled with the quilting, but I wasn’t willing to tear it out – I hate redoing work!

DH says that it’s holding up pretty well, but he’s only had it for a couple of weeks now. Altogether, the project took about 3 hours to do. It was pretty quick and because it’s flat it was easy to hide until our anniversary.

August 2012 Project #1

August 2012 is quickly coming to a close and that means it’s time to post pictures of my completed projects. I actually completed two, but the second one is in use in DH’s backpack and I don’t want to digging around in there just so I can take a picture. I’ll have to bug him when he gets out of the shower.

This quilt was completed for our second anniversary. Traditionally, people give each other cotton gifts on this occasion, and this quilt is 100% cotton so I think it fits the bill.  I call it the “Us Quilt” because each of the squares represent something that’s important to us now, or something that was important/fun from our courtship. I actually finished the top a couple months after we were married, but I waited on the quilting until I had a few quilts under my belt – I didn’t want to wreck OUR quilt.

Each block is repeated once, and since some photos turned out better than others (you can see 3 blocks, but not the 4th), you get to see 6 sets of blocks.

In all it’s glory on my unmade bed.

1st set of 4 squares (ice cream, coffee with chocolate, pez dispensers, books)

2nd set of 4 blocks (sewing, bbq, coffee with chocolate, pin-up girls and eating out)

3rd set of 4 squares (cocktails, Pez dispensers, conversation hearts, important values)

4th set of 4 blocks (books, storm clouds, bbq, sewing)

5th set of 4 blocks (important values, conversation hearts, computers and games, ice cream)

6th set of 4 blocks (pin-up girls and eating out, computers and video games, storm clouds, shopping)

As I said earlier, each square represents something so it’s more than just the photo on the fabric. For instance, one of our earliest dates happened when we cut class to get ice cream at a nearby fast food restaurant. We used to walk in the rain all the time and we still hang out in the car to listen to the rain on the roof. DH makes his money with computers, and I make mine with books. You get the idea.

Choosing the quilting was the hard part. I didn’t want anything too girly or too masculine because this quilt is about US. I ended up quilting wonky squares across the bulk of the top. I also wanted to find a way to make words of love a part of the quilt, so I quilted words from our vows, our names and the wedding date into the border of the quilt.

Wonky squares make up the bulk of the quilting.

The outside border was quilted with words of love. The binding is leftover Superman fabric

And since we both are Superman fans, I wanted to include some of the leftover fabric from the Superman quilt I completed earlier this year (or was it last year?). I used extra backing fabric to make up the binding, and I fussy cut a piece from a different fabric to decorate the label. The backing is the softest flannel so it’s nice and cozy.

Quilts aren’t complete without a label – this one has Superman. We’re both fans of Kal-el.

The quilt wasn’t completely finished by our anniversary – there were still threads to be buried and a label to attach, but I presented it on August 22nd anyway. Although it’s just a throw, we’ve been sleeping under it ever since.

Photos from Project #2 will be up soon!

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

May 2012 Project

Here’s my project for May 2012. It’s a baby quilt. And before you all get excited, let me stop you right there and let you know that I’m not having any babies. My boss asked me to make a quilt for her newest grandson, and this is what I came up with.

Please excuse the dark cell phone photos…

20120502-224043.jpg

The baby is due in July. I wanted to make something that was bright without being overly “boy” and that didn’t have any specific animals or characters on it.

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And since it’s a baby quilt, I backed it in flannel. Nice, cozy flannel.

20120502-224442.jpg

I hope they like it!

April 2012 Project #2

I actually competed another project this month! I went to my first quilt retreat a couple of weeks ago. I was well prepared with several projects that I’d had the time to pre-cut. This quilt was one of them. In a mad dash to the finish, I completed the top!

The pattern is called “Moose Crossing.” It’s supposed to be a scrap quilt (think 126 rectangles plus several larger squares). I had a ton of purple fabric from all the freebies on shop hops and gift baskets, so that’s what I used. The sashing is a minty green that matches the (minuscule) leaves in one of the fabrics.

20120427-213758.jpg

It measures 60″x60″ so it’s basically a lap quilt. Here’s a closeup of the center and a peek at the backing.

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I just used the backing as my binding. The thought of trying to find another fabric for binding made my head hurt.

20120427-214152.jpg

They’re not really my colors, so I don’t want to keep it. There were a couple of people at work who hinted they might like it. We’ll see…

Until next time!

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