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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Mellow Yellow

They call me Mellow Yellow. Or Mountain Dew. Or Sprite. None of which are my cup of tea soda. I'm a diet coke gal. But my outfit looks like it should be bottled and gulped down by thirsty, acne-prone teenage boys.

Thanks for understanding about my once-a-week posts. We have one week left until we close on the new house. Hubby and I took a trip to Valrico - that's where the new house is - this past weekend just to check on it, and also to get out of the house. We literally have been hunkered down in our apartment weekend after weekend. That's partly why I'm not blogging as much. There's not much to say. We've gotten into a little habit of streaming a movie on the weekends and catching up on Netflix freebies.  Our other splurge is spending $20 once a week to pick up takeout from different restaurants. Tomorrow will be Thai night.

I made an appointment to drop off my car to get serviced next Wednesday right before we do the walk through and then head to the title company for closing. Been weird not driving it but very appreciative that hubby works from home and has been able to give up his car for the last three weeks. Of course I'm getting all kinds of comments on his car from my co-workers. My husband has a BMW Z3. It's very cute, but it's also 12 years old, paid off (yay!), and really needs some work (windows won't roll down, muffler sounds like it's falling off, check engine light won't go out, etc.). Don't get me wrong - totally grateful for transportation during this time. But I don't like when people judge others based on what they drive. My husband says to just ignore people's comments and don't let the jealousy get to me. When people are jealous of things that I own, I go into a defensive mode and try to downplay the item. And isn't it quite ironic as my hobby on the side is to pose in front of you and show you what I do have?

And I have to say that my outlook on fashion blogging is a bit jaded after a humbling two months of saving for our house. Right now I find it trivial. I look at the clothes in my closet and think, "That $50 skirt could go toward groceries right now." It's really made me think about where I spend my money and the amount I should be putting away for emergency savings and retirement. I'm almost 42. My closet isn't going to take care of me when I'm older. Of course when the financial scrutiny is finally over next week (underwriters questioning our every bank transaction is a huge invasion of privacy in my opinion) I know my thought process will shift toward fixing up the house. However, I consider that an investment, whereas a J. Crew skirt, eh, not so much. So this blog may completely shift to a house blog similar to Young House Love but with less DIY cause I'm not that good at it.

 
{Dress: Gap | Jeans: Sears | Chucks: Thrifted | Necklace: Bubble Bar}
 
 




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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Dots and Stripes

We just saw this shirt, Niki! I know. But I’m poor and it’s the only thing left in my closet since I had to sell all my clothes to buy a house. Okay, that’s a lie. But it’s such an awesome shirt that it deserves to come out and play more. It’s a thick fabric, which works well to minimize lumps and bumps (well except for two massive bumps that I have no idea how they got passed down to me).

And what fashion blogger can resist stripes and polka dots? It’s part of a fashion blogger’s bible. “When wearing stripes, pair with polka dots or camo.” See? Pulled it straight out of the New Testament. Don’t go looking. It’s there. Trust me.
 

{Shirt: Michael Kors | Pants: Old Navy | Shoes: Arturo Chiang | Necklace: Talbots | Lippies: Nars Luxembourg}

 
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Monday, July 22, 2013

Doing Time

No pics today. Just some ramblings. I'm grateful for my mom taking time out of her day Saturday to drive 45 minutes to come pick me up and rescue me from apartment prison. That's what hubby and I are not so affectionately calling our time at base camp these days, weeks, last month and a half. I get the "oh but you only have a few more weeks of this and than you'll be in your home" from people who then insist on telling me all about their different money market, 401K, mutual investments, and the conundrums they face in just how to invest their money. Pardon me while I turn my back and eat my $1 Taco Bell Griller and fiddle for a quarter to buy the break room diet coke.

So back to window shopping at International Plaza. Mom wanted to take me some place nice to eat for lunch but I insisted on keeping it cheap and eating in the food court. I told mom that I'd show her a low cost day at the mall. We sampled the free food court chicken and sammies, headed over to Godiva for my free monthly truffle, only to be disappointed by a temporary station while their big remodel gets under way. We headed to MAC where we used my 40% discount to buy cosmetics (I just needed a new eyeliner - under $10). Since Westshore mall is less than a mile away and mom still hadn't found her "jaundice" shirt (she was looking for a pale yellow shirt), we made a brief stop at that mall. To which we had $1 three minute massages that felt more like sitting against a punching bag. Of course cookies are the only cure for bruised backs. And I just made it out of Hallmark with my niece's birthday card when the fire alarm and creepy robot voice instructed everyone to evacuate the mall. Ahhh, what a good Saturday it was indeed.

I then spent Saturday night and practically all day Sunday watching the Netflix original "Orange is the New Black." Perfect prison comedy, which seemed to be the theme this weekend as hubby and I finally broke down Friday night and watched Django Unchained.

We're making good progress on cleaning out the freezer. We've slashed our grocery bill in half by doing so. We're having some odd combinations but it means less food to haul over in a few weeks to the new house and more money for our down payment and moving expenses.

I think the pressure of buying a house is starting to unravel hubby and I. I've expressed before just how disappointed we are in our realtor and lender's lack of responses. The lender sends an email that has this form or that form and says, 'Sign and scan back to us.' We do so promptly, try to ask a question only to hear crickets. This process is taxing enough. Communication would go a long way to ease a buyer's nerves and stress level, don't ya think? We have an idea of what's going on in our loan process, but we're not exactly sure. We wrote yet another large check last week to buy the first year of homeowners insurance. You have to pay that up front. So keep in mind when buying a house that you have to pay an earnest deposit, appraisal, and homeowners insurance before closing ($5K for us) and then your closing costs and prepaids (two months of taxes and insurance for Escrow shortages/overages) on the day of closing. Inspections are optional costs for the buyer as are termite reports (except for FHA loans - termite reports are mandatory).

It helps me to write about this. I know you all are probably sick of hearing about it, but in a way it's cathartic for me. And if I were a potential home buyer reading this blog, I would find all this information helpful. Hopefully it helps you, too, either now or when you get ready to buy a house.

 







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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Heat Wave

My fellow New Englanders, are you dying up there from your 100 degree heat wave? Take it from a Floridian, stay in the AC and hydrate. Or spend the week in the pool! Do it before it's fall again! It comes too quick. When I lived in New England, only one out of the four years up there did it ever reach 100 degrees (I believe it was 103 for about two days). I actually thought it was wonderful! Because I came from a state with intense sun and heat for six months at a time, getting into the 90s in New England was incredible for me. In April '09, one weekend it hit 90 for the two days and my hubby and I walked down to the beach in West Haven and just soaked it all in as we knew it wasn't going to last.

In FL, 96 degrees is just another day. Although we have had one wet summer this year and the temps have been in the high 80s. This is the first summer I've been through down here in five years and I don't ever remember it being this rainy. Typically we get the afternoon thunderstorms that make a lot of noise, look intimidating, and then pass leaving steaming roads and suffocating humidity in their wake. This year, the rain comes and doesn't want to leave.

So in honor of your lovely heat wave, I wore my Nars Heat Wave lipstick. It photographs so well. And I love these Gap jeans. They are fab, they fit fab, and look awesome. Bought them about two months ago on sale. I did ditch the collar for work. It swivels on me throughout the day and is a bit stiff to sit in all day.


{Top: Michael Kors | Jeans: Gap | Shoes: Kensie Girl | Collar: Charming Charlie | Lips: Nars Heat Wave}


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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Repeat?

It's not July 4th anymore. What the heck am I doing wearing red, white, and blue again? Feeling guilty for not posting a full theme week? Nah. It's just what I grabbed in my closet that didn't have my company's logo on it. And it's happening. I'm getting schlubby again. Yeah, it's a word. A word for lazy and not caring about my wardrobe. Damn company logo shirts!

I also think it's a combination of feeling like I'm in limbo with this house stuff. We have three more weeks to go but it feels like forever. Trying to lock down homeowner's insurance yesterday. Of course our insurance agent didn't like one of the pictures in the wind mitigation report. Our inspector sent another picture (with arrows) showing what she needed to see but we'll see. He said it's the first time in 10 years he's been asked for this information. Who knows? I don't know who to believe on stuff anymore and frankly hubby and I are just over all of this. Tired of living on $150 between paychecks to make sure we have enough for down payment. We literally went no where this past weekend. If you leave the house, you spend money. Yeah, there's free things to do. But you still spend gas moolah.

We are also down to one car. My car went boom. Last week I did my one weekly $7 lunch splurge and bottomed out in a very deep pothole. Car started rattling something fierce. So it sits at our apartment until we can use our credit cards again to get it fixed as we don't want to tap into our down payment money.

So sorry for being Debbie Downer but we just don't have much going on in our lives right now that doesn't involve constant stress and worry. Bare with me for another three weeks. It will get better. It has too or I'm gonna stress eat into the big girl stores.


{Tee: St. James for J. Crew | Pants: Old Navy Rockstar | Necklace: J. Crew | Shoes: Converse | Lippies: Nars Dragon Girl}


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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Fish Scales

Do you smell that? It's my $3 fishy tank top. Got it a couple months ago at Steinmart. I only went in the store because I was picking up some yummy pizzas at Tour de Pizza in St. Pete and needed to kill time.  At the time our house in CT still hadn't sold so I was just window shopping. But I can't pass up deals under $5. And sometimes I get lucky, although I kind of feel like a box of crayons in this outfit or two thirds of the primary colors.  Not a favorite outfit, but I do so love wearing these shoes. I get comments every time I wear them.

And please, please, please don't be one of those people that heats up fish in the microwave at work. It should be a written law posted alongside the minimum wage poster in the break room. It should be LAW! Fish never, NEVER smells good to anyone when you heat it up. Eat it once and throw away the rest.

Oh and good hair day!

 
{Tank: Steinmart | Pants: Loft | Jacket and Shoes: Zara | Lippies: MAC Rebel}
 
 

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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Homestretch

This post started out very differently earlier today. And then at 3pm, we got the best email we've ever received in this entire home buying process - "Your loan was approved a few hours ago. Congrats Guys!"

After a week of crickets and wondering will we/won't we get approved, intestinal issues, sleep deprivation, stress that I equate to when I was part of a year-long reduction in workforce from Arthur Andersen in 2005 (will I have a job tomorrow?), and just a general depression where all I wanted to do was eat (yeah bye bye WW during home buying), sleep, and stay in my PJs all day, we finally got the good news. Albeit with conditions. But the conditions aren't bad. They are doable. Current bank statements, HUD from sale of CT house, copy of photo IDs, and a couple letters of explanation, and a few other things. Oh yeah, and proof of down payment. Cause that's important.

So we're in the "home"stretch and should be able to close on time.  Will keep you all posted.

On another note, I am in love, love, love with a new blog. I just want to move in with the young couple in Young House Love who just purchased their third house in Virginia. I haven't been able to view all their posts, but I'm getting there. They have such wonderful design ideas and take on most of their house projects together. They are 30 years old, completely debt free (except mortgage), and have such an engaging writing style. Oh and they have a Chihuahua so there's that. If you are looking for DIY house ideas (not your basic "P.S. I glued this" DIY job) but legitimate house makeovers and tips, videos, and techniques, check out their blog. They're not asking me to mention them. They don't even know me. I'm just passing on a wonderful site to those that are interested.

It's gonna be nice when I don't have to worry about my camera fogging up each morning. Ugh!

 
{Dress: Loft | Jacket: Zara | Shoes: Nine West | Bag: Coach}




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Friday, July 5, 2013

Patriot Theme Week - Last Look

So this was a short week and I had a rain day one of the days and a holiday yesterday that limited my theme week postings. Hubby and I made a little beer and wine run to Winn Dixie yesterday and while we were checking out, I took a peek into the August issue of Redbook just to see if I made it in. Sadly, no. Oh well. They did contact me again but I don't want to keep taking pics for them without being featured. So now I get to share the looks with you. Although the looks are more orange, white, and blue, I thought they were appropriate for the holiday week. 

We took these pics about two months ago at Sunken Gardens. It's not too far from where we live now and I had a Groupon that got us in for $8. This was my first time to Sunken Gardens. I think it's a nice place for a wedding but other than that, snooze. We finished within an hour and wanted to have some appetizers and drinks at Carrabba's situated directly next door but we were about a half hour too early for the 4pm opening and much too hungry to wait. So we walked across the street to Outback and sat at the bar for a full meal. Little did I know that my sister would walk in about 10 minutes after we left to eat there as well.  At the time we were still on a budget as the house in CT hadn't sold yet. Very similar to the situation we're in now for the next 3-4 weeks. We're keeping ourselves busy in the apartment with House Hunters, blogging, cooking, and reading.


{Shorts: Dana Buchman - Kohl's | Peplum: Inc - Macy's | Shoes: Converse (top pic), unknown (bottom pic) | Necklace: J. Crew}


{Sweater: Old Navy | Shoes: Keds (top pic) | Blazer: Zara | Purse: Botkier}

 
{Tee: Saint James for J. Crew | Shorts: Old Navy | Belt: unknown}



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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Patriot Theme Week - Look 2

Sorry about yesterday. Nothing I can really do when it rains. I don't have room or proper lighting in the apartment to take indoor shots as we are packed in there like sardines and my husband usually doesn't have to get up until I leave in the morning since he works from home. And while the rain drops started when I took these pics, I was determined to get a few quick shots before any real downpour. I told my sister that I don't remember June and July being like this; days and days of rain. She just smiled like it was no big deal. I remember afternoon thunderstorms that scare the pee out of me and rattle the windows. I remember August and September being the absolutely worst, wretched months to even think about doing outdoor activities (and typically this is when we get a lot of tourists wanting to stand in line for hours in a deluge of sweat at Disney - God help them). But  I don't remember having to take a kayak to work each morning.

It will be nice when we get out of this weather pattern and I don't have to pin my hair back anymore. And thank goodness it's finally growing. I really do think there's some magic in the coconut oil I use in my hair along with my conditioner.  And be kind to your hair if you straighten it and bleach it like me. Only blow dry in the medium speed. Yes it takes longer, but your hair won't feel like straw. Deep condition once a week as well. I can feel the difference when I don't leave heavy Phyto conditioner in my hair overnight.

On to the festive outfit. Except for the cheapy iron on lobster, the quality of this Factory shirt is much better than the striped ones I was purchasing. Much softer. I'm a sucker for anything lobster, crab, anchor, or anything that shouts sea life or boating. And the thing is, I haven't been to the beach since we first moved here. I'm just not one of those FL transplants that likes to fry themselves. I've see the damage on some of my parents' friends and other people I know. It's not pretty. Usually when I go to the beach it's for a couple of hours and then I'm done. The beach will be even further (it's about a 30-45 minute drive now) when we move to the Brandon area.

We are now in the underwriting phase of our loan. This is the phase that troubles me the most because it's now in the hands of an individual that will verify everything. Our local lender reassures us that our loan will be approved. I'm hoping it does. Luckily we were smart enough to lock in our interest rate a week before rates skyrocketed. I would recommend a couple of things if you are going to buy a house:
  • At the bare minimum: make sure your credit scores are at least 650+.
  • Make sure your debt-to-income ratio is less than 40%.
  • Make sure you have at least $10K saved or the bare minimum down payment of 3.5% (at closing you will need one full year's worth of homeowner's insurance + 2 months of homeowner's insurance + 2 months of taxes for escrow. These things could easily add up to $3-5K).
  • You will also need an earnest deposit when you go under contract ($2-5K).
  • Make sure you pay all bills on time (and do so for a year prior to applying for a loan).
  • If you have a bankruptcy, short sale, or foreclosure, etc., you'll need to wait at least two-three years before thinking of applying for a mortgage loan.
  • Go with a local lender rather than a big bank. You'll get more attention and their reputation is on the line.
  • Be prepared to hand over tons of documentation (W2s, tax returns, pay stubs, bank stubs, application, letters of explanation, prior HUDs, divorce decrees, etc.).
  • Keep money set aside for inspection ($300-400) and appraisal ($500) as these are upfront costs.
  • Do not use credit cards (except for the appraisal) at any point during the loan process.
  • Do not deposit large sums of money into your bank account in which you cannot explain the source.
  • If you have any delinquent taxes, those must be paid before closing (repayment plans are ok).
  • If you receive gift money from family, it must be accompanied with a letter.
  • If you need help paying your bills, get your family to pay the bill directly (you have to stay on top of all bills during this time), rather than giving you money. Anything other than your income showing up as a deposit in your checking account (oh yeah, make sure you have a job and keep it during this timeframe) will have to be explained to the underwriter.
  • Be prepared to sign one-off documents like tax transcripts requests. Another one-off document, if you work from home, HR will need to provide a letter (on company letterhead) stating that you can work anywhere. Be prepared to have days go by without knowing what's going on with your loan. If money is tight, be prepared to live off a budget.
  • Only buy what's necessary during this time period.  Do not buy anything (like furniture or a new car) until after you close. Doing so will lower your credit score and your loan could be denied.
These are just some guidelines. Obviously not all of these apply to our situation but it's what I could think of while going through this process. Buying a house is extremely stressful and you need to find ways to relieve that stress. For me, I started back up at the gym. But I also started eating desserts each night. Does it help my weight? Nope. Does it negate the gym workout? No, it evens out. Yeah, that's my story. Does it give me a little bit of happiness before bedtime? Yep. Since going out to eat (unless you consider McDonald's as a possibility) isn't really a possibility, nor is shopping, I've turned to cooking, cleaning, and catching up on TV shows/reading as my outlets.  This process can drive you mad so you have to find something to help pass the time so that you and your spouse don't rip each other's heads off during the process. And on that note, Happy 4th of July everyone!

 
{Tee: J. Crew Factory | Pants and Shoes: Old Navy | Lippies: Nars Dragon Girl}



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Monday, July 1, 2013

Patriot Look 1

Just getting this post in under the wire. I feel like Dave Matthews. I have 'so much to say' today. Since this is a short, holiday week for a lot of us, I thought I'd do a theme week as it's been awhile. This will be Patriot Week (or basically a lot of red, white, and blue). I don't wear a lot of scarves (not really necessary in FL) but I just love this one. Although it's from Old Navy, it's not blatantly patriotic like their $5 tees. I love that it's gray and burgundy rather than white and red. Makes it a bit more wearable throughout the year, no?

And how cute are these FREE Chucks? Yep, free. Well, I paid $1.40 for tax. My sister dragged me out of my slump on Saturday to go to a 'crapbooking' store in downtown St. Pete. I was afraid we weren't going to get parking as there was a big parade going on. Turns out, we didn't have any problem getting parking due to the downpour. It's been raining pretty much non-stop for the last week. Not only am I having to fight the condensation on my camera but also dodge getting peed on by trees and water on the upstairs landing.

So sister and I stopped by a consignment/thrift store on our way as I had a $20 Groupon to use. Just as I was making my last round in a desperate search for anything, I stumbled across these brand new chucks in a size 7. They were $20 and my Groupon was $20. Sold! My sister ended up finding the cutest green and yellow halter dress for a summer wedding.

After being Queen for the Day (my late grandmother's saying for spending
the least amount of money at garage sales), sister and I headed downtown. We had lunch at a Thai restaurant that had the most delicious Pad Thai and green curry. I am obsessed with green curry. Let me preface this with "I hate curry." I do. I can't stand any other curry. But green curry is sweet and delicious and smells and tastes nothing like it's yellow brother from a different mother. My Korean friend, Jill, turned me on to green curry and now I can't stop. Thank goodness Thai food is plentiful in this area. I've had it from four different places in the St. Pete area and the one in downtown St. Pete was by far the best. There's also another place close to where we are moving that has really good Thai food as well.


After lunch we ventured to the crapbooking store. Just as sister was checking out, I noticed they had fine art brushes. I've had to ditch using the liquid eyeliner for my winged eyes as the humidity and heat is making the eyeliner travel up my lid. I've had to go back to gel eyeliner (MAC Blacktrack Fluidline) as it seems to stay put under steamy conditions. But I'm not impressed with my MAC 210 eyeliner brush. It's too fat, too many bristles. A quick Internet search seem to yield the same results in other brands. But at the crapbooking store, I was able to find two very fine brushes (10/0 and 18/0) that are perfect for my little droopy eyes. And at $3.95 each, quite a bargain.

After a quick trip to Sam's club, my sister took me home and that's where I stayed for the remainder of the weekend. When you can't really spend money, cleaning, cooking, and a lot of TV watching and reading fill up the weekends. It's gonna be like this for another long month. We did get our 28-page appraisal report Friday night, much to our surprise as our lender has been less than stellar in the communication department lately. We asked three times when the appraisal will happen. Our new house was appraised for... wait for it, the full contract price. Now a lot of y'all may be saying, "That's wonderful. It didn't under appraise." I'm saying, "This is a bullsh*t. We paid $475 out of pocket for someone to make the numbers work so that the deal will go through." How does a home miraculously appraise for the negotiated selling price? What a bunch of hooey. The whole mortgage industry is just plain crooked. No wonder so many people are under water. It's such a convoluted process with so many acts, laws, and guidelines that it's no wonder the sub-prime market was taken full advantage of. If you don't read and question everything, it's very easy to get railroaded.


 
{Pants: Gap | Scarf: Old Navy | Tee: Asos | Shoes: Converse | Lippies: Nars Dragon Girl}
 



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