Sunday, December 4, 2016

Rainy Week

It has been a rainy week and we are trying to be thankful for all the rain. KT has been sick this week, which has taken up a lot of my brain power. Stomach issues are no joke. We finally took her to the vet on Saturday and I already tell a difference. Sometimes you just need a shot!

As a Gilmore Girls fanatic all my life, I've been wrapped up in the Netflix special that released just after Thanksgiving. What did I think? It wasn't the same, but it felt like "home" to watch the characters get back together. My girlfriends, also in the same fanatic boat, got together Wednesday to analyze and unpack our thoughts, all while eating the junk food they famously eat on the show. 

I'm thankful for this tribe of women. 

Our four year anniversary was Thursday, which we spent at Fondren's First Thursday and with dinner at Bravo! As always, the filet was divine. Paul bought be a diamond contour band that fits my engagement ring (I've been wearing a thin guard band since we got married) that I'll treasure forever. My gift was a little bit of my dad's doing. 

You see, he recently bought a Philips Hue and Amazon Echo Dot kit and was showing it off to us. Paul was in love.

So, for his anniversary gift, I bought him another woman. Meet Alexa. She turns down the thermostat, tells us the weather, and will turn on lights when we ask. I'm fine with her being the third wheel.

Speaking of women, this cutie is the newest member to the group. (You can see her with her mom in the photo above). When her dad strolled her in to breakfast on Saturday, we couldn't get over her furry boots and vest. She has this habit of holding her hands up after eating, then falling asleep. It's the cutest thing.

Happy Sunday, folks!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Happy Anniversary

See this guy? He's been officially mine for fours years as of today.

What a dream boat.

Happy anniversary, boo.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Trash Find

There is nothing more satisfying to me (besides a thrift store find) than a trash find. Your trash, my treasure. On Sundays I always take a longer stroll through the neighborhood and this past Sunday's walk was particularly fruitful.

You see, I've had mirrors on the mind. The mantle needs a refresh and a mirror is always a go-to. Nothing has seemed "right." I've kept my eyes peeled at second hand shops and online retailers. Nothing.

Then, this was propped up next to a trash can down the street. A couple is in the process of closing on their house and this ended up in the discard pile. 

Above: Dirty (top), clean (bottom). A little glass cleaner and Old English oil later, voila.

She fits in perfectly.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Whitney Plantation

Paul and I recently went on a trip with students from the college that I will never forget - to Whitney Plantation in south Louisiana. 

Whitney has been named America's Auschwitz because it is the only plantation that talks about plantation life from the perceptive of the slaves. 

More importantly, from the view of the children. In the 1930's as part of the WPA/New Deal, the Federal Writers Project collected slave narratives from people in their 80's and 90's who had been children on these properties before the Civil War. 

The Whitney is their collective story.

When you arrive, your pass has information about one of the statues on the property, a real child who shared their story with the FWP. 

Since this trip was on a Friday, we decided to stay the night in New Orleans. I chose our dinner spot, St. Roch's Market. We had such a great time browsing the food booths, settling on classic seafood fare.

I ordered a trio, which included shrimp and grits, red beans and rice, and a crawfish and potato dish. Paul also ordered gumbo and we had bites of each. It was perfect.

After a nice morning at District Donuts, we made a stop to pile up the car at Trader Joe's. Oh how we wish we had one near us. We came prepared with coolers to bring back frozen items. Trader Joe's, if you read this, please come to Jackson!

And we couldn't make it back across the lake without a stop at Middendorf's (Paul's choice).

We've learned we are both the happiest when we split the seafood platter. Their stuffed crab is to die for!

We ended the night with a wonderful Friendsgiving with some of our nearest and dearest. Thankful for these sweet friends!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Man, don't you hate blog problems? I've been trying to blog via my phone, but my long posts won't publish. Back to the computer!

I have so much to talk about, but I'll start with one of my favorite things - the annual family punkin chunkin'. I can't remember what year we started this tradition. Maybe ten years ago? We had a little throwing phase that manifested in throwing some particularly rotten pumpkins one year.

Now, we all save our Halloween pumpkins (non-carved) until Thanksgiving for the annual toss. My parents have a 10 foot drop off the back of their deck into a gully, which makes it even more fun. Even our dogs look forward to it.

The highlight was definitely when dad brought out his machete. 

A video posted by Sophie McNeil Wolf (@sophiemwolf) on

Sunday, September 25, 2016

House Progress: Water Damage/Door Removal

Yes, this was our view last week. In the past few months, we noticed a small roof leak (from our flat roof) in our back room and later that a small portion of our wall paneling had swollen. Eeek! The fixed the source of our roof leak and tried a few things with our paneling to no avail. It was time to call in the pros.

After talking through it with our contractor, we decided to take out the door (that didn't even open), take out the overhang, tile up the outside and sheetrock the inside. As a bonus, we even got to add outdoor electrical outlets on the back and front (which we've never had!) and one on the inside.

Below, you'll see the panels (just to the right of the door frame) that were swollen. We found out our paneling was custom milled - we couldn't replicate it without costing a fortune.


After our awesome crew finished up, we painted to help cut down on costs. Luckily, it took no time at all!

Almost back together! We are so incredibly happy with the contractor and crew and their work. Now that we've been able to center the art and dining set, I'm on a mission to find a new rug. :-)

Saturday, September 24, 2016

It's Fall... and Still Hot

Phew, where did September go? All I can say is that we've entered fall and I'm still sweating. Where are the cool breezes and crispy leaves?

I'm feeling more like KT - I'll just sleep until it's in the 70's, thank you.

A few weeks ago we took a much needed Labor Day trip to Orange Beach. I've missed it terribly this summer without our annual family trip!

Of course, we had to bypass through Fairhope and my favorite pier.

Truth be told, we are terribly spoiled by our Ellis beach trips. It was hard sharing space and facilities with others!

Next up, I'll talk a little about our recent home renovations!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Adding Curtains

Curtains, man. They make a difference. It's not that I have been curtain opposed in the past, they just weren't a priority for me. 

I have been thinking about curtains in our back room for a while, but never acted on it. With a little spending money from MyPoints (a great point collecting site, similar to Ebates), I told Paul that is what I wanted to spend my money on.

Those rooms are so large and the curtains really work to make it feel more cozy and defined.

Our curtain came from Homegoods and our rod came from Target. As things go at Homegoods, there was only one set of curtain panels. Once we put it up and liked it, I mentioned it would be great to have the same thing on our other set of windows. After lunch the next day, Paul snuck out to the other location in the burbs, found the same panels at the other Homegoods, and installed it all before I came home.

Paul can't keep a secret from me. When he was grinning ear to ear when I came home, I knew something was up. It was a sweet surprise!

Now, I'm thinking curtains in our bedroom might be next. Can you picture it? I'm also on the hunt for the perfect mid century nightstands with a drawer. Not having a drawer now, we leave so much on top of our nightstand.

I also felt the urge to pull out my paints yesterday afternoon. Getting back to it felt so good. I think I've had that heavy acrylic set since high school.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Adventures in Refinancing

It all started a few weeks ago when our mortgage broker reached out to us and asked, "Have you guys given any more thought to refinancing? Numbers are really great right now."

Always open, we said, "Sure, what would it look like for us?"

When we got the numbers back, we were shocked. By refinancing (rolling our costs into the loan, nothing out of pocket), we could reduce from a 30 year term to a 20 year term for $40 more than our current monthly payment. Not bad!

However, we were already automatically paying an extra $50 a month towards our principal, which meant this new payment was actually ten dollars less than our current mortgage payment plus additional payment. How could we say no?

When it comes to refinancing, it all falls on the appraisal. Having only been in our house two years and three months, we were nervous about what the numbers would be. We had done so much, but would it show?

That meant crunch time to touch up the house, which meant a few big projects, including wrapping up painting the exterior of our house.

You may remember, we've been painting since we owned the home. Two years later, we were in somewhat of the final stretch. With our guest bath remodel, we had one exterior side only halfway painted after replacing the window and some of the shingles. Our front had only been partially painted because of a gnarly vine.

So, with a few days until the appraisal to spare, we got it done.

Lots of scraping, especially around windows where paint had bubbled at some point. Luckily, all of the wood underneath was normal.

For days straight I painted scuffed up baseboards, window frames, mullions, and touched up other spots.

Not to mention, we finished the exterior (less two sides that barely get seen). We went from dull and drab (top) to a much nicer finish (bottom).

I still feel like I'm getting back to normal after a weekend and nights spent working to get everything done. But, it was all worth it. We got our appraisal report back last Friday afternoon and we have added $45,000 in value to our house above what we paid for it. To that end, our house value was raised $35,000 above what the value was two years ago.

How much did we spend to get that value? We estimate a ton of sweat equity and about $10,000 in materials/projects. 

Here's a good house progress post from a year and a half ago - I need to do another one with our house now!

Now, having that report back, our bank said we no longer had to pay PMI, because we had raised the value of our house so much and our new loan was less than 80% of our home's value. Yes! That meant knocking another $30 off of our new estimated loan payment. If you're keeping track, that means our new monthly payment is only $10 more than our old monthly payment or rather, $40 less than what we were paying with our additional principal payment. Essentially, we'll be saving $40 a month. Woo!

I decided to do this post to help others and shed some light on the process. It's been very interesting for us as first time homebuyers to have all of these options. Here's to closing on our new loan this Friday!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Adventures, Part II

Where has the summer gone? It was so weird to look up and it was suddenly August. Our new students move in on Friday, so it has really been hitting me the past few weeks!

We've had a few more adventures since my last post!

First, I hosted book club at my house! These are some of my sweet Fondren friends and we try to get together every six weeks with a new book. It shifts houses each time. We read a book that I picked that I do not recommend. However, we are reading Outskirts of Hope this time and I'm excited to start it.

I also heard from my friend Erin about a tiny house roadshow in Birmingham on a Friday afternoon and by that night we had a hotel booked and we were on our way Saturday morning after breakfast with our friends!

Paul was in heaven (in the top of a loft).

There were at least 15 tiny homes to look in. It was a test in patience with so many people and long lines, but we had so much fun.

Did I mention Paul loved it?

Of course, we had to make a Trader Joe's run while we were in town. We actually made two trips so we could pack an ice chest with frozen items right before we headed home.

A few of the items we're loving from them:

Also, their fantastic chicken teriyaki and orange chicken frozen items!

Next post, a big project we just finished, touching up and finishing up our house for house appraisal to refinance. We got great news about our results Friday afternoon. PSA: Consider looking at rates and numbers if you haven't in a while. We are shaving 10 years off our mortgage and only paying $10 more a month than our old monthly payment.


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