Sunday, April 24, 2016

We bought a home using Down Payment Assistance (and it was easy)!

Sure, 100% financing of a house is not the greatest option. But sometimes it's the best option.

After two decades of renting apartments, I found myself in a situation where renting wasn't an option anymore. We had more pets than most landlords would allow, and renting a house with cats is really difficult in some cities. In Seattle, the market's really tough.

We had a plan to save up for a down payment, but events really caused us to hurl fast-forward through the house-hunting and house financing that lead us to moving into our own home. I had to learn fast how to make the financing and purchase a reality, so I bought this book on Amazon. It was a miracle.

Basically, even making almost $90,000 a year in the Seattle metro area, I qualified for down payment assistance. Sure, it's a loan. Sure, it meant adding into the total cost of home ownership. But it's been so worth it to be able to buy a house where we have:

* Built a catio out of pvc piping and deer mesh for under $200!
* Been able to have a real garden and yard!
* Compost!
* Painted our front door a crazy color!

It was easy. I attended a required homebuyer's class, filled out financial paperwork with a lender, submitted more paperwork to the title company, and worked with a buyer's agent on commission.

In fact...the hardest part was finding a house in my budget within a certain radius from my office. The market's super hot here in the Seattle metro, and I was fortunate to have some flexible time during certain weeks due to my work schedule so I could travel around and look at four or five houses each time. (That made the buyer's agent happy, too. More efficient.)

Now, I pay less in mortgage and PMI than I would in rent in the same area.

Even if you think you can't afford a house, you can likely find a down payment assistance or grant that fits your situation and needs. VA loans, first time home buyer grants and loans, grants for teachers and fire fighters: they're all out there.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Getting Rid of Curry Smell and Cockroaches

In December, we bought a house. I'll detail "how" in another post.

The former occupants for the 18 months preceding the sale were Nepalese and Indian. Their favorite foods were curried. The twice we visited (once for initial look-through, once for the inspection) it was near lunch time. The wife was always cooking something curried. At the time, it smelled absolutely delicious.

I thought it was mostly limited to the kitchen. I was wrong.

So we bought a house which smelled like curry. Rancid curry. 

What we've done so far:
1. Washed and replaced air intake vent covering on furnace.
2. Replaced furnace filter.
3. Gotten the ducts cleaned.
4. Replaced attic insulation.
5. Had the attic insulation team hook the vent pipes back up to the roof vents.
6. Washed pretty much every surface in the kitchen I could afford to clean over one overnight-on-call shift.
7. My son took down and washed in the dishwasher Every. Single. Light. Fixture. while he replaced all the old awful CFL bulbs covered in rancid curried oil with new IKEA LEDs. "Top rack washed" only where he could; used the bottom rack for the bigger fixtures.

It's April. We started seeing cockroaches in late February and got an exterminator in, though it's not helping much. I think they're eating the crumbs and curry left in places I seriously can't reach--like under the corner cabinets where there are rotate-and-slide-out and lazy-susan style shelving is installed. We'd need to replace the tile countertops for this to change.

I'm seriously thinking of ripping out the rotating shelving when we finally do replace countertops, and just getting some wire racks from IKEA or Fred Meyer to create different shelving levels.

The curry smell is returning with the warmer weather. I found a sticky spot that I know I went over a few times with Murphy Oil Soap and a scrubbing sponge. I'm thinking it may be time to re-scrub the cabinets near the stove, for sure. I'd like to repaint the ceiling with Killz and then a decent latex -- it's possible it's one of the last places that has ionized curry oil rotting on it.

I know we need to get under and behind the fridge and oven for various reasons. I'm a little bit terrified about potentially moving the dishwasher out of its space too--I'm sure we could clean under the cabinets and such better if we moved the appliances, but would the "working spiders" under the sink try to migrate while I clean? They didn't seem happy when we had the plumber in to replace the faucet (space was too long for my reach, and I didn't want to mess up the install).

Later in the day I'm going to head to Lowe's for some Ortho Home Defense Max. We were lucky enough to receive a Lowe's card from my future in-laws as a Jul gift. Strangely, I forgot we had it until we decided to pay off the credit card.

The cats don't want to play with the cockroaches. They don't mind the occasional moth or fly coming in from the outdoors, but they won't touch the roaches. The Advion discs and the Gentrol discs didn't help either. But getting under/behind the appliances and spraying might help with both problems simultaneously.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

"Neti Pot" solution

12 oz distilled water - tap water that's been boiled and cooled is okay too!
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp table salt

Dissolve baking soda and table salt in water. Warm to appropriate temperature and use as your sinus rinse dispensary agent directs.

Some helpful experiences:
- Water up the nose isn't bad as long as it's a controlled stream and you breathe through your mouth. 
- The first time you try this is the hardest. The water may be too hot and your desire to squirt things up your nose might be low. 
- Easiest to do this in the shower, and use a spare washcloth to blow your nose into after. We use cheapie white washcloths from a big box retailer (10 for $4) and throw them in with our bleach load. 
- It helps but it's not a true cure for me for the swelling and blockages. This plus a product like Flonase or Nasacort might serve some folks better.
- If you want to get trapped water in your sinuses to come out easier, reach down like you're trying to touch your toes from a standing position. Hold for three seconds. Then as you stand upright again, the water will usually dislodge itself. I grab an extra washcloth for those moments too, because who wants to get their feet wet by stepping in nose water? Ugh. 
- Pre-measured packets are very expensive compared to the raw materials, and we can get the materials at the grocers. Must be all that marketing...

Lemon Sugar Scrub - an exfoliant

2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/4 - 1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar

optional items:
1 tsp or so of citrus zest (for best results, also blend with oil)
1/2 aspirin, ground in the coffee grinder, then blended with the olive oil (salycylic acid; good for acne prone skin)
1/8 tsp ground ginger or cloves
a 1/4" thick slice of ginger

Mix all ingredients in a wide mouthed glass jar.

To use:
Scoop a little bit of this into your hand and rub all over parts that need cleaning and moisturizing. . Rinse well, and follow up on face with rubbing off as much of the excess oil as you can with a soft, moist washcloth.