Monday, November 25, 2013

A Little Treasure

On Saturday, my mom (AKA "Prinny") and I loaded up the car and headed downtown to two craft fairs/ markets: one at the Chattanooga Trade & Convention Center and one at the First TN Pavilion. (Events like this are in Chattanooga all the time- it's a great way to find handmade items from the talented people who call Chattanooga home.)

There were so many fun things! Lots of crafters and craftsmen selling their wares: leather-working, jewelry, locally-made foods, monogrammed items, art, screen-printed shirts... 
It. Was. Awesome.

I found a few Christmas presents for Grant (no pictures, obviously), some burlap ribbon ($2/roll!!!) for future wreath-making/crafting...

 ...and a little treasure for me: a ring made from a 1951 silver spoon.

The pattern is called "Magnolia." I love it.  

Some of my favorite pieces were items that had been engraved with a monogram by the original owner years ago.  I can just picture a cute, little 1950's housewife carefully picking a script font to engrave her new last initial onto her brand new silver wedding china.

You can find craft festivals near you here.

Happy hunting!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

First Showing = First Offer

Thanks to some aggressive pricing and marketing by our realtor, we already have an offer on the Little Rock house.  We listed on November 21, had three showings booked by the 22nd, and our first offer after our first showing.  (It's actually a pretty decent offer, too- not a low-ball offer like I was expecting.)  The couple spent an hour at the house, which we took to be a good sign, and, lo and behold, it was!

Now to negotiate and see if we can get into a multiple-offer situation after the showings this weekend... If you're hanging around Little Rock with nothing to do, you can schedule a showing, too :)

Here's to hoping!


Friday, November 22, 2013

New Countertops

If you've read our blog before, you know how we feel about granite... I know, I know, "But everyone loves granite!" Well, that's what we were banking on when we bought a slab for the Little Rock house as we put it on the market this week.  (I'll admit, granite does have perks: durability, heat-tolerant, scratch-resistant, etc.)

We took a cabinet door to the slab yard to try to coordinate with the color and landed on a fairly neutral stone.  It finally got installed late this week- just two days after we put it on the market, and the same day as our first showing.

I have to admit... I kind of really like it! The granite looks nice with the cabinet and wall colors as well as the newly-placed hardwood floors.  

The new look is a far cry from this...

Navy corian, anyone?

Yes, yes, I think changing the countertops was the way to go.

Let's hope the new countertops woo some house-hunters into buying the first Amber Bottle House.

Happy weekend!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Professional Paraphernalia

Maybe I'm biased, but I think pharmacists are more likely to collect antiques from our profession than just about anyone else: relics were all over the pharmacy school (some of the professors were 2nd generation pharmacists, so they had great knick-knacks from their parents); my boss has two curios full of antique pharmacy wares; vintage mortars and pestles adorn the shelves of many a-pharmacy I've rotated through, and I've started my own little collection...

I like to group the amber bottles  together so they have more impact.

One of my favorite finds is a black-and-white photograph from the early 1900's of a downtown Chattanooga street corner...

I love all the old signs!  This is one of the few decorative things I brought from the staged-to-sell Little Rock house to the Chattanooga apartment because I love it so much.

Other pharmacy-related decor items I'm on the lookout for:
- apothecary jars with their original labels (it's amazing what medications were commonly used in the early 1900's.)
- balance scale
- apothecary cabinet (I love all the cute little drawers)
- medication and remedy advertisements

If you have a little room on a shelf, maybe try some pretty little pharmacy things... 

If pharmacy relics aren't for you (gasp!), maybe try some antiques related with your career or hobbies: law books, vintage cameras, weird dental tools, vintage sheet music, antique anatomy/physiology prints from old textbooks, lab flasks or beakers, eyeglasses, wood-working items, vintage sewing machine, old light bulbs, microphones... I'm most intrigued by things you wouldn't imagine using nowadays. You could pretty much make anything work, as long as it's displayed neatly or in a grouping of like items. 

Happy hunting!


Monday, November 18, 2013

The Hunt Begins...

...For the next Amber Bottle House!

Grant & I started house-hunting in Chattanooga this weekend.  Our wishlist might be a little different from most:

1) Large lot
2) Dated fixtures (What?)
3) Preferably no granite countertops or re-done kitchen (gasp!)
4) Fenced yard
5) 4 bedrooms
5) Well-built, sturdy structure
6) Not brand-spankin' new

I know, I know- why would we want a horrible-looking, 1970's, grandma-like house?

First, we wouldn't have to buy someone else's upgrades by paying a higher purchase price.  I'm pretty sure no one other than us knows exactly what kind of kitchen is our taste or what kind of wood flooring we would choose, so I want to buy an un-renovated house so that we can make it what we want.  (I almost get disappointed when I see a re-done kitchen.  It's generally not my taste- dark wood cabinets, granite, beige backsplash- but I can't justify ripping out a brand new kitchen.  I would not be disappointed if the shiny, new kitchen had white cabinets and soapstone countertops, though!)

Secondly, older homes generally have a higher quality of construction than newer ones. (Maybe just my opinion?) Most houses we are looking at were built in the 1980's or before, and they are brick on all four sides.  Most new houses might have brick on the facade only. Maybe.

Also, new homes are seemingly always in developments with tiny lots with front-entry garages so that the driveway is 2-feet long and half the facade is garage door.

Man, I sound picky!

Right now, this house is the front-runner:

It's a 6-bedroom/3.5 bathroom house (built in 1985) in an established, older neighborhood- very similar to the first Amber Bottle House's neighborhood, Pleasant Valley, in Little Rock.  The roof is brand new. (Spending money on that type of update is so... unexciting.) The lot is large-ish and flat. (A welcomed change from the Pleasant Valley house's steep slope!)  There is a large, private backyard, brick on all sides, nice stonework on the front, and a finished, walk-out basement.

There is also flowery tile in the kitchen and master bathroom, brass fixtures everywhere, gray carpet in the basement, horrible light fixtures, and a weird taupe toilet in the half-bathroom downstairs.  It's pretty ugly in places, but I love the ugly!

I love the idea of re-doing another house, and I love the idea even more when the agent tells us this  house is priced around $75/sq. ft- compared to $90/sq. ft for other houses in the neighborhood. This means that with some updates, we could increase the value on the house significantly.

Things to ponder...  Now someone just needs to buy the house in Pleasant Valley so we can start anew in Chattanooga!

Happy house-hunting!


Saturday, November 16, 2013

For Sale

Well, the first Amber Bottle House is on the market.  

Bittersweet: I'm sad that we've left our first real house behind, especially after all the work we put in.

 I'm disappointed with how the chapter in Little Rock went, but I'm happy to start anew in Chattanooga.

We tried aside our emotions about the house when we met with the realtor. (Kerry Ellison is fantastic if you ever need a realtor in Little Rock.)  We wanted to slightly under-price it to get a quick sale... or maybe even multiple offers.

Here's to hoping 227 Valley Club Circle gets sold quickly to someone who will love it as much as we have.  

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Sequatchie County Craft Fair

In our first full weekend in Chattanooga, I wanted to live it up Catherine-style! What does that entail? Craft fairs. As many as possible.  I googled and googled trying to find craft fairs and markets going on this weekend and finally landed on one out in Dunlap, Tennessee.

I enlisted my brother's wife, Abby, as a co-conspirator, and after we dropped off the dogs with their Grandma Colleen, we were off to Sequatchie county.  We didn't really know where we were going, other than knowing to look for the fairgrounds.  We assumed that would be on the outskirts of town, so we drove... all the way to Marion county. Whoops!  At least we had these views to enjoy on the way...

After stopping for directions (Google maps is not very familiar with the boonies), we learned the fairgrounds are, in fact, next to the senior citizen activities center near downtown Dunlap.  At least we made it.  Eventually.

Just as I had hoped, the fair was full of fun things: little ladies with their quilts (a lost art!), pallet art makers, monogrammers (my Achilles heel), organic soaps, wreaths...

I ended up with a $5 monogrammed navy pendant (shocking, I know). What a deal!  

I also got some ideas for future home decor projects... when our housing is less temporary.

Now to find a craft fair for this weekend..

Happy crafting!


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Floors Part 2

After working his way through the living room, dining room, kitchen, and hallway, Grant started ripping out the quarter-round and flooring in the den. Clearly, Callie found the event stressful...

Grant followed the same steps as in the other rooms. (See them here.)  Finally, he reached the end of the den. Whew! He worked so hard!

Callie insists on following us everywhere... so she's in almost every picture I have of the floors.
It looks a little different than it did when we first moved in, right?

Here's another before and after...

Let's hope Grant's hard work pays off, and someone walks into our house and says, "I need to buy this place because these are the most amazing floors I've ever seen.  In fact, I should pay 20% over asking price!" That might be a stretch, but I can dream... Our realtor thinks the floors will help bump us to the top of the price range in which she had planned on listing the house.

Happy home-improving!


Friday, November 8, 2013

Floors Part 1

Whew! Whirlwind week with the move back to Chatty and starting a new job, but I wanted to share about the floors Grant installed in the Little Rock house... all by himself. (Let's face it: I have the eye, but Grant has the skill. I was moral support.)
I couldn't even lift one of the boxes to help carry them in. Pitiful really.
Because it was laid on the slab, engineered wood was the way to go, and we had to have a moisture barrier, or underlayment.  You know us, though: cheap.  We were thrilled that we could salvage the underlayment from the previous flooring. (That saved about $800!)
The boxes sat in the foyer for three days to let them acclimate.  Then it was time to get started!
First step: ripping the quarter-round nailed to the baseboard and the old flooring. Second step: trying to find somewhere to put the old floor.  Third step: maintaining some semblence of normal and sanity when your house is turned upside-down.
The flooring is an engineered, tongue-in-groove wood, but not click-together.  Grant laid the first row, which left the tongue side exposed.  For the next row, he cut the first board to 1/3 the length to stagger seams. (The third row started with a board 2/3 of the original length, then the next row started with a full board. You get the idea.) Each time he laid a board, he ran a thin strip of this kind of glue down the groove and fit the board over the tongue of the board in the previous row.  Grant laid a scrap wood block against the newly-placed row and lightly tapped the block with a mallet to tighten the seam between the boards.  He wiped any excess glue off the surface of the wood. We used painter's tape to hold everything in place until the glue dried.
Little by little...
Bit by bit...
Don't you love that the vinyl tile was placed atop parkay-like linoleum? So stylish. Not.
We learned along the way that it was easiest to use a reciprocating saw to cut the door frame trim to form gap between the floor and the base of the door frame and slide a board into the gap (so that the the door frame was sitting on the new floor).  At first we tried to trim the boards around the door frame. Not again.
Such a difference, right? Infinitiely better than three types of laminate.
Callie likes the new floors.
Happy floor installing!
Cookie wanted everyone to see how difficult it was for her to sleep on the car ride to Chattanooga. Bless her heart.

Monday, November 4, 2013

New Everything

Trying to get settled in to the apartment we're renting...  I've unpacked most things for the kitchen and living room, but the vast majority of our clothing is still sealed up in space bags. 
The walls are pretty, um, bare.  (Note that I tried to hang somethings on the walls with 3M strips, and nothing would stick!  The walls are too textured for the strips. How am I supposed to make the place home-y without pretty things on the walls?)  
Everything is also shiny new: granite countertops, dark wood cabinets, modern light fixtures.  Hardly anything is my taste, but I'm too distracted by its newness to care.
 It is strange to be in a place where nothing needs to be fixed up. I'm not allowed to fix anything up even if I wanted to.
Most of our furniture and decorative items are still in the house in Little Rock to keep it staged for selling purposes, so I'm considering it a challenge to see how little I can spend to get the apartment looking decent. We're borrowing a couch from Grant's brother, dishes from Grant's parents, dropleaf table and chairs from my mom, and a beautiful antique bedroom suite from Mimaw's estate.   Any unused bedding and towels made the trip to fill the apartment.  I also packed some decorative items laying around the triage room in the Little Rock house. (I'm counting those things as free in my challenge for cheapness.)
 I'll post pictures as we go along in our quest for hominess in the super-modern, beige apartment.
Happy home-making!
With the theme of everything being new, I started my new job today! Watch out, Chattanooga, there's a new pharmacist in town!