A look back at 2013



With the dawn of a new year hours away I thought I would take this time to look back on 2013 and reflect on it’s ups and downs.

2013 flew by – literally. I think this was the quickest year I have ever experienced. I can still vividly remember watching all the New Year’s festivities on TV last year. It seems like only yesterday. I know that is an expression but it really does feel like it was yesterday.

This past year had many highs and lows. It’s the lows that I am looking forward to putting far behind me.

In 2013 we FINALLY sold our condo and found a beautiful house. My whole family was excited about finally having a house and space. I even created a Pinterest page where I pinned house hold items and décor that I wanted for our new house. Sadly that all went sour. We had to back out of the purchase of the house due to some very important information the mortgage guy failed to mention to us. And we had to cancel the sale of our condo. We even did the right thing and reimbursed the buyer the money she paid to have our condo inspected.

I TRY and think of that whole fiasco as a blessing in disguise. We would have been “house poor” in a matter of months.

We have given up on owning a house. We’re trying to make due living in our shoebox sized condo.

My dad passed away earlier this year. I never had a chance to say “good bye” or to tell him that I love him. 🙁 I find comfort in knowing he’s with my mom now. He’s never been happy since she passed away 10 years ago this month.

Mom and Dad

My aunt passed away this year too.

My blog even got hit with some bad stuff this year. About a month ago something happened to my site which we still can’t figure out. Google knocked me off the map. At one point you couldn’t find me if you Googled “She Scribes”. It’s as if I never existed. That part has finally been worked out but my page rank went from a PR4 to N/A. Ouch! That hurt A LOT. It’s also effecting my traffic. That is very bothersome too.

This past year did have some highlights.

Our daughter turned 16. It’s hard to believe that we have a 16 year old.

My family spent a beautiful day on the Hudson River on the Spirit of New York cruise ship. That was amazing! I have lived in New York all my life and I have never seen New York City from that vantage point. The ship’s captains even invited my family to hang out with them for a bit in the control room.

One other time we went to New York City we went to the top of Rockefeller Center (aka “Top of the Rock”) and saw some breath taking views of the city.

Speaking of New York City – I had an amazing time at Hellmann’s 100th Anniversary. We were treated to the show, The Chew. I was even seen on TV! I also had my picture taken with Chef Mario Batalli (I had met him earlier in the year as well).





At the Hellmann’s 100th Anniversary there was the World’s Longest Picnic Table which will go into the Guinness Book of World Records. At that same event I got to briefly meet Andy Cohen (Watch What Happens Live). I even snapped some pictures with Andy with my friend Mitch (GayNYCDad.com) and Jackie (MySentimentExactLee.com). That was a fun day.

Andy Cohen

My family and I also attended the “Green” Carpet Premiere of the film Epic. I had the chance to meet and interview Colin Farrell, Chris O’Dowd, Aziz Ansari, Amanda Seyfried and director Chris Wedge.


There are a few more things but I don’t want to bore anyone. 🙂

Now 2014 is just hours away. I have to admit that I’m a bit “down” right now. I know I should be hopeful and look forward to what the new year might bring. I just don’t feel that way right now. I wish I knew why.

I don’t make resolutions. I used to but I found that making resolutions was just a way to set myself up for failure. Instead I opt to make “better” and “conscious” choices in my life. Instead of saying “I need to go on a diet and lose xxx pounds”, I am going to make a conscious effort not to eat more than one cookie, or make an effort to walk the dog for 15-20 longer than I would normally do.

This year I want to organize my time better so that I am not blogging at all hours of the night to keep on top of things and not able to do things around my home like I need to. I want to try and get posts written and scheduled ahead of time so that I can have a “me day” once a week to catch up on things, read a book, take on a hobby, or persue other activities.

I hope my readers won’t mind if I throw in more personal posts this year. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still host giveaways and do reviews, I just want to add MORE to my site. It seems like all I do are reviews and giveaways. I want to offer readers MORE than that. I’m a forty something year old woman, I’m a wife, I’m a mom, I have thoughts and ideas. I would like to share these things with my readers. I would love for my readers to get to know the person I am.

I also want to add some more fun and interesting things to my blog. I want to post things that will get you thinking, posts to make you laugh, posts where I can connect with readers and more.

She Scribes Logo

I don’t know how I am going to accomplish all of this, but I’m sure going to try and figure it out.

As 2013 comes to an end I want to thank each and every one of my loyal readers and followers for sticking with me throughout the year. Without all of you I would not be where I am today. I owe my blog’s existence to everyone who takes a few moments out of their day to stop by and see what I have to say. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

For all my new readers and followers I hope you’ll stick around and stay with me throughout 2014.

I would love it if you would all “connect” with me on the various social media outlets.

Facebook: www.Facebook.com/SheScribes

Twitter: www.Twitter.com/She_Scribes

Pinterest: www.Pinterest.com/SheScribes

Instagram: SheScribes

On a side note – if you could take my 2014 demographics survey (click on the “check mark” graphic on the side bar —>) that would be very helpful.  It’s totally anonymous and it will help me to get a better understanding as to what kind of content and things my readers are most interested in. You DON’T need to enter an e-mail or anything personal and it’s only 10 quick questions. Thank you!

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all have a happy and healthy new year. May all your hopes and dreams come true in 2014.

Happy New Year


Please Join Morris the Cat on Morris’ Rescue Watch And Help Provide Food To Homeless Cats & Learn How You Can Win a Year Supply of Cat Food


Pet Collage

Clockwise: Velcro, Kitty, Padmé, Anakin, Bella and Espn.

If you are a long time reader of my blog you know that I have a soft spot in my heart for animals. I love them! I would have a farm – or a zoo – if possible. I would especially love to have a shelter for homeless pets of all shapes and sizes if I had the money to do so.

We have five cats, a dog and some fish. Four of our cats were adopted from the local animal shelter (one of which we fostered the entire time so she never actually stayed at the shelter). One of our cats was born to feral parents in our condo complex. A neighbor hand raised them so they would be adoptable. Otherwise the kittens would have perished in our complex (many others were hit by cars or climbed into the dumpsters only to be taken away by the garbage men :-().

Our dog Espn (pronounced Es-pin) was adopted from the local animal shelter and one of our fish was won at a local county fair (we bought the other fish to keep him company).

My family does what it can for our local shelter. We donate food, litter, blankets, money and even items we don’t want/need that they can sell to raise money too. I was even a volunteer for a while, taking photos of the available pets to be used in local publications and PetFinder.org.



Each and every one of our pets bring such joy and happiness to our lives. I love that they each have their own personalities and “quirks”. For example, Kitty (the Calico above) loves to like windows, mirrors and eat tape (we have to hide the tape from her). She’s also VERY friendly and is always one of the first to greet visitors. When she wants attention she takes my kid’s stuffed animals and drags them into the living room and meows as if she was a lion who just caught it’s meal. LOL!

Anakin is the comedian of the group. He’s also known as “Boobie Boy”. The cat has strange obsession with boobs (no kidding!). He loves to reach out and “fluff” them up with his paws. Crazy cat!

Anakin was ASLEEP hanging off the cat tree like this.

Anakin was ASLEEP hanging off the cat tree like this.

Anakin in the tube

Velcro is our oldest cat. He has Diabetes and needs injections twice a day. He’s a true  “scaredy cat”. He’s afraid of his own shadow. But he’s also a brute and lets all the others know that he’s “boss”.



He doesn’t look as healthy now as he does in the photo. The Diabetes has made him lose a lot of weight and his fur and skin look horrible these days.

Padmé is the “mom” of the group. She takes care of all the others. She’s also a sweetheart. She used to sit on my shoulder like a parrot when she was younger (she’s too big do that now).

Padmé and Velcro

Padmé and Velcro



The baby of the group is Bella. She’s our foster kitten that we adopted. She tends to get a bit more spoiled than the others because she has a bunch of health issues including Thyroid problems, three leaky valves in her heart and severe asthma. I have to give her an inhaler (a people inhaler) every day through a special mask called Aerokat. Despite that’s he’s a very sweet little girl too and probably the most friendliest of them all.

Bella & my husband asleep on the chair.

Bella & my husband asleep on the chair.


Bella always finds weird places to sleep.

Bella likes to sit on our laps when we take her to/from the vet/animal hospital. We only let her do it when we are almost home for safety reasons. She loves to look out the window.

Bella likes to sit on our laps when we take her to/from the vet/animal hospital. We only let her do it when we are almost home for safety reasons. She loves to look out the window.

Of course there is our dog Espn. Espn thinks he’s a cat. He loves to play with cat toys, he LOVES fresh catnip and he’s even been caught sleeping ON the cat tree from time to time. LOL!


I’m sure many cat lovers are familiar with Morris the Cat? He’s the famous face for 9 Lives Cat food. He’s been around for many years – even when I was a young girl.

Morris the Cat has teamed up with the ASPCA to help out shelter cats across the country.

Did you know that Morris was once a shelter cat? Before he had a loving home, a comfy bed, and a slew of squeaky toys, Morris the Cat was adopted from a shelter. Since then Morris has made it his mission to help cats everywhere live well.

Morris the Cat

You can help Morris and the ASPCA provide food for shelter cats simply by watching funny and entertaining cat videos. For each view on the special Morris Rescue Watch website, 9 Lives will donate one meal to a shelter cat in need – up to 1 million meals.

In addition you could also turn your cat into a super star and win a year’s supply of cat food AND a $3,000 donation to a shelter of your choice. Simply submit a silly, sweet or hilarious video of your cat (or cats) to the Morris Rescue Watch website.

Here is a little more information about Morris’ Rescue Watch campaign and contest.

Before he had a loving home, a comfy bed, and a slew of squeaky toys, Morris the Cat was adopted from a shelter. Now, the most famous cat-celebrity in the world, Morris the Cat of 9Livescat food, is giving back. 9Lives Morris’ Rescue Watch is a campaign to generate food donations for local shelter cats by encouraging cat lovers to do what they love and already do anyway– watch cat videos! Anyone can participate by simply watching 9Lives Morris’ Rescue Watch videos on MorrisRescueWatch.com. For every view 9Lives cat food will donate one meal to a shelter, up to 1 million meals!  Additionally, now through October 18, 2013, Morris is encouraging fans to submit their own fun cat videos to MorrisRescueWatch.com for a chance to be one of three winners to each receive a year’s supply* of 9Lives cat food and a $3,000 donation to a shelter of their choice.

It’s time to put the hours we spend watching cat videos to good use!” said Morris the Cat. “Whether you’re watching one of the videos or sending me a video of your own kitty on camera, each view will help care for a cat in need.” 


Morris and 9Lives brand cat food are proud to support the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) to help cats most in need.  With the ASPCA’s help, the 9Livescat food donation of up to 1 million meals will go to shelters where they can do the most good.

9Lives Morris’ Rescue Watch is a fun, easy, and interactive way for cat lovers to help feed and care for cats in need across the country,” said Carrie Schliemann, Director of Cat Food Marketing at Del Monte Foods. “With the increased popularity of watching and sharing funny cat videos, we know fans will help make a big impact on the lives of shelter cats. We’re thrilled to partner with the ASPCA in a continued effort to ensure that every cat lives well.”


Throughout the years, Morris has made it his mission to help cats live well. In 2006 and 2007, Morris led Morris’ Million Cat Rescue adoption campaign and traveled the country to raise awareness and facilitate more than 1 million cat adoptions.

Morris and 9Lives are proud to support the ASPCA. Founded in 1866, the ASPCA is the first animal welfare organization in North America and serves as the nation’s leading voice for animals. Like the ASPCA, 9Lives believes that all cats deserve to live well, and living well starts with eating well. 9Lives cat food offers great taste and nutrition to help keep cats happy and healthy.

To support 9Lives Morris’ Rescue Watch by watching a funny video or submitting your own video, visit MorrisRescueWatch.com. For additional information on 9Livescat food, visit 9Lives.com.

*A year’s supply calculated as 15 bags of 13lb cat food to be awarded in the form of one (1) Visa gift card; approximate retail value: $142.50 USD.

It is so easy to help cats in need. All you need to do is watch adorable cat videos. Sounds great to me! Who doesn’t love to watch cats doing cute and silly things? Plus the more videos you watch the more food is donated to help cats in need. The videos are only about a minute or two long so you could easily watch all the videos during your lunch break or anytime you want a laugh.

I wish I could find a video I did not too long ago of our youngest cat Bella playing with a toy. She did a tumble that was so funny. Even my family got a good laugh out of the video when I showed it to them. I can’t seem to find it now.

The only ones I could find (aside from videos I took for the vet of Bella having asthma attacks) are these videos. The first one is literally just a few seconds. It’s a video of Bella closing the door on a toy barbecue.




I love the one of Bella rubbing up against my daughter’s damp hair. Bella LOVES damp hair – especially long hair. She does that all the time to my daughter. She goes out of her way to do that when she knows my daughter came out of the shower. I don’t know why she likes it so much.

The last video is of Bella when she was a kitten. I thought it was cute (even if the quality is poor). Bella loves her “Lambie” toy. She’s had is since she was a newborn. We fostered her and her sister (who had to be put to sleep at 3 weeks old :-() since they were one day old. I gave them the little stuffed lamb so they had something soft to cuddle with. Bella played with it all the time. I even saw her run around with it in her mouth. She still has the toy and plays with it.

Bella and Lambie

If you love animals as much as my family does, would you please consider taking a few minutes out of your day to check out the adorable videos on the Morris’ Rescue Watch website. You get to enjoy sweet and funny videos and a cat in need will receive food. It’s a win-win situation.

For more information please visit Morris’ Facebook page and 9Lives.com.

To learn about the ASPCA visit www.ASPCA.org.

Please consider donating to your local animal shelter. Donations of food (both for adults and puppies/kittens), litter, blankets (used is fine including sheets, pillow cases and pillows), cleaning supplies, office supplies as well as cash is always appreciated and needed. Volunteering to help walk the dog and socialize with the animals is also welcome.

Do you have a pet that you rescued from a local shelter? Feel free to tell me about him/her. If you happen to have any funny, sweet or silly cat videos be sure to upload them to the Morris’ Rescue Watch website for your chance to win a year supply of food AND a $3,000 donation to your local shelter.

Feeding time at our "mini-zoo".

Feeding time at our “mini-zoo”.


*I was not compensated for this post. I posted this because I support causes that help animals in need. Any opinions expressed are my own unless otherwise noted.

Hallmark’s Get Carded Challenge


Mailbox with cards

When was the last time you received a handwritten letter, card or postcard in the mail? For many of us such sentiment is few and far between.

I miss the days of getting actual “snail mail”. I’m not talking about envelopes marked “DUE NOW” in big, red letters. I’m talking about a letter from a long lost relative or a “just because” card from a friend you haven’t spoke to in a few years, or even a postcard from Grandpa from his trip to Europe. I miss that.

I used to collect postcards. I have postcards from around the world from my parents, grandparents and biological father. I still have them too. It’s fun to read them and having my parents and grandparents “speak” to me again (they are all deceased).

These days people don’t even send cards. They shoot you an e-mail or write a post on your Facebook wall. It’s just not the same as opening up a card.

I’m glad that I saved many of the cards I received as a child, as well as cards my kids have received over the years. With the way technology is today who knows what the future holds for cards.

Do you know what the best kind of cards are? The ones that you don’t expect. I love those kinds of cards. Cards from family and friends just to say “hello”, “thinking of you”, “miss you” and “I’m glad you are in my life”.

I used to give those kinds of cards to my hubby. Some where along the way I stopped doing that. I need to get into the habit of doing that again. I used to love to leave cards for him tucked in his laptop bag, in his car’s glove compartment or in his coat pocket. 🙂 Some of the card were romantic, others were just silly to make him smile.


Hallmark reached out to me last month asking if I would like to participate in their Get Carded Challenge. This fun challenge was designed to help encourage people to  connect and reconnect with loved ones, whether it’s a friend, old college roommate, neighbor, colleague, parent, sibling or significant other.

I really liked that idea. When we almost moved upstate I was going to be closer to my family and friends – many people that I haven’t seen in 20+ years, but whom I keep in touch with from time to time via e-mail and Facebook. I liked the idea of sending them an unexpected surprise – a card from me!

Hallmark sent me an assortment of cards. All I needed to do was write a message on the inside, address the envelope and mail it out. Here are the people I chose to send cards to.

Day 1: My cousin. We grew up together. She was like a sister to me. She lives in another state. We rarely get to see each other. Family, work and distance keep us apart. We have tried to have mini-reunions over the years, but it’s certainly not enough. Especially for someone I have so many wonderful memories with. I wanted to share some of my favorite memories with her and let her know that I missed her.

Day 2: Another cousin. She’s had a rough life. Things never seem to go her way. It’s such a shame too because she has a heart of gold and would give you the shirt off her back or her last piece of food if you were both hungry. Life just has not treated her kind. I wanted to reach out to her and let her know that I missed her and that I was always thinking of her.

Day 3: A childhood friend. This is someone that I have known for almost 40 years. We met at Sunday School at our church and became instant friends. We literally grew up together. We have not seen each other since our son’s were about a year old. My son just turned 14 last week. Needless to say it’s been a while. I sent her a card to say “hello” and to let her know I valued our friendship over the years.


Day 4: Best friend. I’ve known her since we were in 5th grade. She lived a couple of miles from me when we were kids. I used to ride my bike to her house all the time. We were REALLY close. We spent every moment together. Time, marriage, children, jobs and distance kept us apart. I wanted to let her know that I miss her and I was looking forward to moving back upstate (at the time I sent the card we were going to move) so that we could “re-connect” and get together for coffee one day soon.

Day 5: A “computer friend”. We met years ago. I’m thinking about 12+ years ago, give or take. She was customer of mine when I had a home business. Some how we just connected and have been friends ever since. We have never met face-to-face. She lives far, far away. I would love to meet her in person some day. I treasure her and value our friendship. I wanted to let her know I was thinking of her. Day 6: Another computer friend. This special person (actually family) came into my life under unusual circumstances. She was also a customer of mine, but due to a family issue I didn’t charge her for the order. I also connected her with another friend. They too became best of friends. We have never met face-to-face (she’s on the West coast). I would love to meet her and her family. She is another person whose friendship I value and appreciate and I wanted to let her know that.

Day 7: One of my son’s teachers. I know this one was a bit “odd” but we absolutely adore her. She is by far the best teacher either of my kids have ever had. She went out of her way to help our son in 1st grade. Our son is in 9th grade now and STILL talks about her to this day. There is just something so special about her. I wanted to send her a card to let her know how much we appreciate all she did for our son and how she’ll always have a special place in our hearts and thanking her for all that she has done.

If you read my blog often you know that I write A LOT at times. I did the same thing with the cards! I wrote “mini-novels” inside of them. I know I shouldn’t have. It’s just how I am. I have Carpal Tunnel too so my handwriting was not that neat.


It was fun to drop them off at our mailbox each morning. Each person, except my son’s teacher and one cousin, reached out to me to thank me for the card. They all said the same thing – they were surprised. None of them expected anything like that in the mail.

A couple of them thought it was an invitation to something (not a card). LOL!

I was hoping the cards would have resulted in a phone call or two. Everyone who reached out to me did it via e-mail or a Facebook message. 🙁 That was what I was hoping to avoid. A handwritten note or phone call is a bit more personal. None the less, it still made my heart smile knowing that they truly enjoyed the unexpected surprise in the mail.

One of my friends talked about getting together one day – maybe meeting 1/2 way for lunch or coffee. That is pretty cool. I hope we can work something out.

I enjoyed this challenge. I wouldn’t even call is a challenge, per say. It was just a way to remind me (and the recipients) the value a physical card can have over an e-mail or online message. I hope it will encourage them to do the same for those special people in their lives (my one cousin does send me cards from time to time, long before this challenge).

If you are a blogger and would like to participate in the Hallmark Get Carded Challenge simply visit the website.

If you would like to stock up on some “just because” cards to send out to your family and friends you can save 30% off at www.Hallmark.com using the discount code BLOG30 (I believe that is ONLY for cards, not for other merchandise).

Did you that Hallmark also has a rewards program? If you like to purchase cards for family and friends it looks like a great program to participate in – and it’s FREE to join!

The new Hallmark Card Rewards lets you earn a reward for every five Hallmark cards you buy, whether you buy them at Hallmark Gold Crown stores or more than 40,000 grocery and drug stores and supercenters across the U.S.  Rewards include gift cards, discounts, dollars off, and more from rewards partners that can help you enjoy more together time or even a little “me” time. Plus, you’ll receive exclusive offers and ideas that make it easy for you to continue being a thoughtful friend and loved one to so many people. And, now we want to reward your readers just for signing up.

Starting tomorrow (October 1, 2013) every 100th new member (up to 8) to sign up will receive $250! How awesome is that? Plus you don’t have to purchase the cards from a Gold Crown store. You can purchase them at more than 40,000 grocery and drug stores and supercenters across the country.

To get credit for your purchase you can use the FREE Hallmark Card Rewards app to scan the barcode on the back of the card. If you don’t have a smartphone you can simply record your purchases online by entering the UPC.

If you happen to be a Crown Rewards member your purchases will be automatically recorded when you make a purchase from a Hallmark Gold Crown store. You can track your progress online and redeem your rewards for gift cards, discounts, dollars off at places like Applebees, Lands End and Omaha Steaks.

Be sure to check out Hallmark on Facebook and Twitter too.

For more information visit Hallmark Card Rewards.

Do you like to send (or receive) cards? If you were to send a card to anyone RIGHT NOW, who would be #1 on your list and why?

Hallmark logo


*I was not compensated for this post. I did received free cards to do the challenge but there was no other compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way.

Is it REALLY Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all? I don’t think so!


Broken Heart

I’m sure you are familiar with the quote “It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all”. Do you believe in that? I sure don’t! When you love something and lose it sometimes the pain is just unbearable. Sometimes I feel it’s better NOT to have loved at all.

If you have been following my blog for a while you know that I have always dreamed of having a house. I grew up in a house and then when my husband and I got married we moved into a condo. I really wanted a house but we barely had a dime to our names and we didn’t really plan for the future (we eloped). It was all we could afford. But that was OK. It was just us. A one bedroom condo is fine for a couple.

When our daughter came along things were OK too. We converted the dining room into her bedroom and everything else was fine. It started to get a wee bit crowded, but it was manageable.

Two years later my son came along. It was OK at first. He slept in the crib in the bedroom and our daughter still had her own room. When our son was old enough to have a bed we tried to put a toddler bed in our daughter’s room but it wouldn’t fit. So we ended up giving our kids the bedroom and we moved into the living room and slept on a sofa bed.

Over the years we slept on a sofa bed, air mattresses, a daybed/trundle set up and then back to a sofa bed.

Air Mattress

Fast forward to today. My kids are still sharing the bedroom and my hubby and I still deal with the uncomfortable night’s sleep on a sofa bed in the living room. We have stuff on top of stuff on top of more stuff because we have no room for anything.

We knew we had to do something so we put the condo on the market. We had a lot of ups and downs with that, even going so far as changing agents. FINALLY, after a year on the market our condo had a buyer. To say we were elated was an understatement.

We were so excited to go house hunting. At least my dream of having a house was finally coming true! :-)!

After looking at a dozen or so houses we found our dream house. We were only hoping to have three bedrooms and maybe one and a half bathrooms. Anything else would have been a “bonus”.

The house we made an offer on has three HUGE bedrooms (two with walk in closets), 1.5 bathrooms, eat-in kitchen, formal dining room, three season room, finished basement (aka “man cave”), garage, nice landscaping, patio, stainless steal appliances, marble counter top, beautiful kitchen…. it was PERFECT!

I am in ♥ with the kitchen in our HOUSE.

I am in ♥ with the kitchen in our HOUSE.

Notice I said “was”?

You know those mortgage calculators you find on the Internet? DON’T BELIVE THEM! They give you false hope.

We went back and forth with a mortgage guy at a bank and a mortgage broker. The mortgage broker was giving us monthly payments close to $2,000/mo. Ideally we needed to be around $1,500/mo. THANKFULLY the mortgage buy from the bank was giving us decent rates. We finally got the rate of $1,649.00. It was about $150 more than we wanted to spend, but $107 of that was the PMI which would have come off in a few years, so that was fine.

The whole “game plan” was for our father to “gift” us the money for the down payment so we could put 5% down. We couldn’t afford 20%. Then we found out from the mortgage guy that my father couldn’t “gift” us the money – it had to come from OUR accounts – money we had in savings and checking. There is no way we had that much in any of the accounts, even combined. NO ONE told us that up front! All this time we figured my father would “gift” us the down payment and we’d be all set.

OK… a bit of a glitch in the “game plan”.

We looked into putting 3% down (this is a conventional loan – we wanted to steer clear of FHA loans). We have enough in all our accounts to cover the 3%, only to find out putting only 3% down only increases the PMI dramatically – to the point where we can’t afford the mortgage anymore.

I have spent the past few days calling people, returning phone calls, e-mailing people, researching – everything imaginable to figure this out. Surely there had to be something we could do. I came up with nothing. My husband came up with nothing too.


Renting is not an option. Renting around here is MORE money than a mortgage. We also have 5 cats, a dog and fish. We also didn’t want o bounce the kids around to different schools and school districts. We felt bad enough making them change schools IF we moved to our dream house.

My husband had to call our agent and tell her we can’t sell. He also e-mailed our other agent and told her we can’t buy. That’s it. It’s all over.

That is where the quote comes in – It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

It’s not better – it’s worse!

I fell in love with the house we were going to buy. I also fell in love with the idea of FINALLY owning our own house. Madly, truly, deeply, head-over-heels in love with the house and the idea of having a house.

Our daughter had TEARS in her eyes the first time she saw it. I fell in love with it instantly too. Within minutes of walking into the front door it felt like home – our home. My husband felt the same way. We knew this was the house we wanted our family to live in.

We even got into a bidding war to get the house. We ended up getting it for more than we wanted to spend, but we just had to have it. We figured we’d iron out the details later. Plus we were given false hope that we could afford it.

I had that whole place decorated in my mind. I have an entire board on Pinterest dedicated to decorating ideas and décor that I wanted to get for our new house – Great ideas and cool stuff for our house.

Wish List

At first our kids were a bit worried about moving but after seeing our new house a few times they were very excited about it. They were planning on where to put their beds, what kind of furniture they wanted, what they wanted to hang on the walls and our daughter was already planning on having sleep overs and watching scary movies and eating popcorn in the “man cave” (finished basement).

Now I truly wish that we never, ever laid eyes on that house. I fell in love with it and as a result I am feeling a huge sense of grief and loss. I feel actual PAIN over the loss. My dream of having a house has been shattered. I don’t know where to go from here. It’s hard to turn your mind off of all the planning and plotting of having a house. I even had it set up where everyone would come to our place for Christmas dinner! I have a set of Christmas china (like the Spode Christmas Tree pattern) that I’ve had for almost 30 years and it’s never been used because we’ve never had a dining room or a place big enough to use with guests. It’s no fun breaking out the fine china just for us.

I don’t think I’ve cried this month since my mom passed away about ten years ago. I physically feel like I’ve been hit by a truck and dragged down the road. I actually feel aches and pains, and I don’t think it’s from the sofa bed.

bad dream

I wish I never laid eyes on that house. I wish we were never foolish enough to put our condo on the market in the first place. I wish we had planned better and saved our money BEFORE eloping so we could have bought a house and not a condo.

No one can truly understand just how much I want a house of my own. I have wanted my own house since I was a young girl. I want to decorate for the holidays – including my yard, host big parties and backyard barbecues, plant a veggie garden, have my own pumpkin patch, make snowmen for the front yard, watch my pets frolicking in the sun chasing butterflies… I had so many wonderful visions. And now they are shattered just like a piece of glass.

For the life of me I can never understand how people who are truly blessed to have a house let it get into such disrepair. We see houses that are falling apart and are totally “unloved”. I understand there are circumstances behind it (such as an illness or money issues) but for those able bodied people who are just to lazy to care for an appreciate their house – you don’t deserve it! Some people are not meant to be parents – and some people are not meant to be house owners either. I would gladly “adopt” a house and give it all the love and attention it deserves. If only that was possible.

I feel like we live in a “Roach Motel” (not literally – my place is spotless). Their motto for the roaches is that once they check in they can never check out. That is how we feel. We feel like we checked into the “Roach Motel” (our shoebox sized condo) and we’ll never be able to check out.

I need a GREAT BIG HUG. 🙁

Roach Motel Cartoon


How to age 20+ years in a few weeks – Part III


 Real Estate

In case you have been following the tales on how I have literally aged 20+ years in a matter of weeks, here is the third installment. You can read parts one and two here;

When I last left off we had seen seven houses, none of which seemed like contenders. That is except the town house. That town house stayed on all our minds. We would love to make an offer on it but the price was a bit steep and we were not sure if we could afford it.

We kept looking for new listings.

My husband was working with a mortgage broker who told us the town home would be $400 MORE than what we figured out. That killed our dreams right there. We were crushed. We really loved the town home.

Many people told us NOT to use a mortgage broker because some of them tack in unnecessary fees so that they can get more of a commission. We are not sure if that is true or not so my husband reached out to a bank mortgage person whom was recommended to us. He told us a whole different story. He was giving us mortgage amounts that we could afford. It would be tight, but it’s “doable”.

Then we found out there was an offer on the town home. 🙁 At this point my kids are frustrated and I am so upset that I find that I’m crying myself to sleep at night and constantly feeling “down” and on edge.

My husband and I were also getting frustrated with the whole mortgage thing as far as what we can and cannot afford. The banker sent us three spreadsheets for three different options (3% down, 3.5% down, 5% down) as well as information on FHA loans, conventional loans and a million other things we simply cannot understand. He wants to meet with us but now is a busy time at my husband’s job and he can’t get away.

So now the kids are upset, we’re upset, we’re also stressing about $$$$ (or lack there of), waiting for the contracts needing to be signed to sell our place, worried about not finding a place and either settling or having to pull out from the sale… a million things are hanging over our heads. I’m NOT exaggerating when I say I have never seen my hair this gray/silver/white in all my life. Even my husband seems to have aged practically overnight. He looks young for his age but suddenly he looks his age, and that is concerning. The wear and tear of selling/buying has got the best of us.

Then there was a glimpse of hope. The town home was still on the market. The seller couldn’t get a mortgage for is.

My father told us to pick out a few more houses and he would come with us as an extra set of eyes. We found a few homes and also included the one my husband liked (the one where the bushes were consuming the house) and the town house we love.

The house my husband liked (the “bush” house) was sold. So we had three new houses to look at and the town home.

Pretty on the outside - needed a lot of work on the inside.

Pretty on the outside – needed a lot of work on the inside.

House #1 – It was big but the layout was weird. There were two rooms upstairs and one in the basement. The whole basement layout was off because it was going to be an apartment but the town wouldn’t approve it so it’s a basement with a kitchen and the room that was going to be the bedroom was not finished. The basement ceiling was also low. I’m 5′ 3″ and I almost hit my head on the side where it sloped.

There was a large area of the backyard that was recently dug up. That was a concern. Was something replaced or repaired and why?

The kitchen was outdated and needed new appliances (the stove didn’t work). The back deck (upper and lower) needed to be repaired or replaced.

There was a shower stall in the upstairs bathroom that was so tiny I could barely fit in it. My husband and son would have to bend over so as not to hit their heads on the shower head.

The neighborhood was nice enough, but it was also in a school district we knew nothing about.


Outdated kitchen and needed a new oven.

Outdated kitchen and needed a new oven.

House #2 – This was an old house in the village. It had potential, or so I thought. The kitchen was outdated, the oven (built into the wall) had to be replaced. In order to get into the 3rd bedroom (which was tiny) you had to go through the master bedroom. They listed it as a 4 bedroom but the 4th bedroom is suppose to be the attic which was unfinished. The basement was too scary to go into and had a sub-pump which apparently is used frequently because of the hose that runs out of the basement window and into the driveway.

I had hope for this house but after seeing it I wasn’t too sure anymore.

House #3 – This was a short sale about to go into foreclosure. We had a feeling it was going to need A LOT of work. It was listed at $160,000. We thought we could offer $140,000 – $150,000 and then take out a mortgage of $180,000 and use the $30-$40,000 to fix the place up (new appliances, new flooring, new windows…).

Let me put it to you this way – I never got further than the front door. My husband, son and our agent walked in, I stood in the door way with my father, stepmother and daughter. There was a sign on the wall next to the door where people wrote about the condition of the home. At one point it said “good” but then all it read was “poor” and the most recent updates include MOLD! And from what my husband describes from what he saw in the kitchen it might be black mold, one of the most toxic kind.

There was no saving that house. Our agent said “Well, maybe you can gut the place and re-do the inside”. NO WAY! That entire house needed to be knocked down and rebuilt. The condition on the outside was just as bad.

I even asked why “mold” was not listed in the description. The agent jokingly said “Well that is not exactly a selling point”. You think? The description would read “Contractors only – house must be knocked down”.

Looks are deceiving. Nice outside, black mold, gutted and horrific on the inside.

Looks are deceiving. Nice outside, black mold, gutted and horrific on the inside.

On to house #4 – the town home we love.

My daughter was the first one to walk into the house (aside from the agent) and the first words she said was “I’m home”. 🙂

My father and stepmother loved the town home. They even commented on how many more updates the town home had compared to their beautiful home.

My father looked at the utilities, such as the hot water heater. He gave my husband a crash course in hot water heaters. He told him it was small so all four of us couldn’t take showers one right after the other, but we could replace it in a few years if we wanted to.

Our agent said if we wanted the place to make an offer (she gave us a number about $28,000 less than the asking price).

We couldn’t stop talking about the town home. It’s unanimous – we love it and we want it. But can we afford it?

It was back to crunching numbers and going back and forth on things. It’s the PMI insurance that is the issue. We can’t put 20% down so we have to pay that insurance which is about $250 per month on top of the mortgage and taxes. That is A LOT of money.


My father was looking into the numbers on his end too.

Worried that we might lose out on the town home we made an offer (the number the agent told us to offer) only to find out there is ANOTHER OFFER ON THE TOWN HOME!!!!

We were told they were in a stand still. The buyer didn’t want to come up anymore and the seller didn’t want to come down anymore. She gave us a number to offer that was $21,000 MORE than the original offer we were told to come in at. So we made that offer.

My husband spoke with our neighbor who also works with mortgages (business, not personal) and told him that at the current offered amount it’s right where we want to be as far as monthly payment. We’ll have to pay the taxes separately (not include them in the mortgage) but that is “doable”.

So as of right now (the time of this writing – Monday 8/26/13) we have not heard back from our agent on whether or not they accepted our offer. We are all on pins and needles. My husband was so stressed over it last night he didn’t want to talk about it anymore.

To be honest this was the first time in weeks that I felt a little sense of “relief”. I don’t know why. Maybe that means they will accept our offer and we will have our home. My husband doesn’t want to jinx anything.

If they do (and I pray they do) accept our offer it’s not going to be cheap, but we’ll make it work. I plan on getting a job (I won’t give up blogging) which will help elevate a lot of the expenses. Anyone want to hire me? 🙂

Wish us luck!!!! I hope and pray all goes well. If it does, and after we close and move, I’ll be needing ways to erase the 20+ years that have been added on to my life from this whole selling/buying experience. I honestly thought it wasn’t going to be THAT bad. I was way off.

Have you sold and/or bought a home? Was the experience BEYOND stressful?



How to AGE 20+ years in a few weeks – Part II


Real Estate

Yesterday I wrote about how we FINALLY received an offer on our condo (yeah!) and the hurdles we are dealing with as far as that is concerned (settling on less than we owe on our mortgage, the issue with the balcony…). You can read about it here – How to AGE 20+ years in a few weeks – Part I.

OK… so we have an offer on our condo and an accepted price. We just need to sign contracts. We also need to find a place to live. Renting is not an option. I don’t want to rent in one school district only to find out our kids will have to go to another one. We also have several pets which would make finding a rental property difficult. Renting is also more expensive around here compared to buying.

We checked out all the real estate sites to find houses we’d like to go see. We must have sent our other agents dozens of houses, only to come up with a list of seven that were still available. It seems like no sooner do houses come on the market they are snatched up. So you really have to move quickly. It also concerned us why the seven houses were going to see were still available.

Keep in mind we are not “handy” people and cannot do major repairs. Not only that we don’t have the $$$. We need something that is move in ready. We can deal with replacing (or removing) carpet and painting. But things like needing a new roof, major repairs and stuff like that are not possible for us.

House #1 – Old house, tiny, itty bitty rooms. No storage. There were holes cut out in the bottom of the wall in the dining room so you can see into the living room. That was weird. The house was also surrounded by massive trees (what if one of them fell in a storm?). The backyard was on a slope and would have not been very usable. The back patio was stone that was crumbling and the wood was all rotted. The only thing is had going for it was a lovely updated kitchen.

Notice the openings in the bottom of the wall to look down into the living room.

Notice the openings in the bottom of the wall to look down into the living room.

House #2 – I had high hopes for this one. It had the most beautiful kitchen. It’s an old house that had been updated a tiny bit (only the kitchen and a front porch added). It was sold this past February for $40,000 and now is on the market for $209,000. I guess they felt the updates warranted the price. It also sold in 2012 for $1,000! Needless to say that puts up a lot of “red flags” but we didn’t know about that stuff up front.

The house was built in 1800 (another place I found said 1743!). The basement was the original basement and it was nothing but crumbling rocks and dirt. You couldn’t even go down there it was THAT bad. The entrance to the basement was in the 1/2 bathroom downstairs. It was covered by a curtain, not a door. No way would I use that bathroom knowing that creepy things are just feet away!

Beautiful gourmet kitchen vs. the basement to hell. LOL!

Beautiful gourmet kitchen vs. the basement to hell. LOL!

To get to the 3rd bedroom you had to walk through the 2nd bedroom, which was odd.

This house made me dizzy! So dizzy that I couldn’t stay that long. I felt dizzy and sick to my stomach. I don’t know why. My son said he felt a bit dizzy too. I don’t know if it’s because the floors were uneven or what else it could be. I just had to leave!

House #3 – People – if you are going to put your place on the market PLEASE clean it! This house was dirty, gross and disgusting. Worse yet the owners were outside having a garage sale as we were inside looking at it. It was so gross that we couldn’t even fathom the idea of considering it. Even the layout was horrible. I know we need to focus on the “bones” of a house but this one was ubareable to be in. It’s sad too because on the outside it was beautiful.


Beautiful on the outside - horrible on the inside.

Beautiful on the outside – horrible on the inside.


House #4 – My husband saw potential in this one. I couldn’t look past the amount of work it needed. The house was literally being consumed by the bushes in the front yard!

The house was old, small rooms, creepy basement, needed a lot of updates but I suppose it was “doable”. My husband really liked it. Me and the kids – not so much.

This is not a weird angle - the bushes were literally swallowing the house!

This is not a weird angle – the bushes were literally swallowing the house!

House #5 – This was not a house, per say, but rather a townhouse. Unlike other townhomes this was only connected with another unit on one side, so it was more like a duplex. The neighbor on the other side was actually far away due to a bend in the road.

I didn’t want a town home. I wanted a freestanding home with neighbors a decent distance away. I was a bit put off looking at this place but I gave in to my hubby and agreed to see it (he wanted a town home).

Our “wish list” was 3 bedrooms and ideally 1.5 bathrooms. That’s it. Anything else was a bonus as far as we were concerned. We just need three bedrooms so we can have some space and privacy.

Beautiful kitchen (more on the other side!), Dining room looking out to the 3 Season Room, Looking down the stairs from the top floor and the massive walk in closet.

Beautiful kitchen (more on the other side!), Dining room looking out to the 3 Season Room, Looking down the stairs from the top floor and the massive walk in closet.

The town home has the following;

  • Three HUGE bedrooms – two with walk in closets (the master walk in closet is massive!)
  • One full bathroom upstairs and a half bath downstairs
  • Laundry room
  • One car garage
  • Eat in kitchen
  • Stainless steel appliances and marble looking counter tops (not real but look awesome) and new cabinets
  • Formal dining room
  • Living room
  • 3 Season Room (with a ceiling fan)
  • Patio
  • Beautiful landscaping
  • Decent size yard – both front and back
  • A LOT of storage
  • Finished basement (aka “man cave”)
  • Quite neighborhood
  • NO HOA (home owners association) fees and you can do whatever you want to your yard/home (no rules!).

The entire place has been updated over the past 3 years. Even the paint color on the walls and flooring was perfect. It was also clean and 100% move in ready. Perfect in every way! Except it was a town home, which we didn’t really want. After being in a condo all these years we wanted to get away from that.

On to another place…

House #6 – This was another townhome. It was being rented out month to month and you could tell the renters didn’t care about the place. The whole neighborhood looked sloppy. The repairs and updates it needed were $$$. There were holes every where, stains and they even cut a hole under the stairs for storage – just cut a random hole. It looked like a giant rat ate through it.

Dirty & gross fridge, washer & dryer in the kitchen. Blah!

Dirty & gross fridge, washer & dryer in the kitchen. Blah!

House #7 – This was a huge house with a beautiful layout, spacious rooms, loved the kitchen, dining room and finished basement. It even had one full bath and one half bath. So far, so good…except… there were HUGE cracks in the ceiling and running down the wall in the living room AND directly underneath that area in the finished basement were similar cracks.

RED FLAG! That can’t be good! Little cracks are one thing – these were HUGE cracks – as if the house was going to slip in half.

Crack along the ceiling and down the wall - exactly the same on the floor below.

Crack along the ceiling and down the wall – exactly the same on the floor below.

The house was also on the edge of a lake filled with lilly pads and stagnant water. There were a lot of mosquitoes around (and you know they can carry diseases). The driveway was also very steep and that could be an issue in the winter (you can’t park on the road). As beautiful as the house was the cracks were a grave concern. That and the mosquitoes. There was also only one access to the patio out back which meant having to walk around the house with food if you wanted to barbecue.

The whole trip was a bust. The only thing that stood out was that beautiful town house. The town house was also one of the most expensive places we’ve seen that day. Still… we couldn’t get that gem out of our minds.

Will we find the house of our dreams? Or will we find nothing but haunted houses and places that need to be condemned. To find out tune into Part III of How to age 20+ years in a few weeks.