Monday, July 01, 2013

Zelda Cross-stitch

I found a cross-stitch pattern of Link giving a heart to Zelda and knew it was destined to be in my friends' house. I actually JUST started working on it as a surprise when I received an invite in the mail to their engagement party. FATE, I TELL YOU.

Original pattern:

This is the second time I've cross stitched. What I learned this go around: you can eyeball the colors, and it's fine. The first project I made was a legit pattern with all colors in DMC and labelled appropriately. This project was a googled image with anchor colors that didn't match the threads I had. So eyeball.

Used Photoshop to overlay text and approximate the pattern

It's also not all that difficult to turn something into a cross-stitch pattern. I googled letters for their names and didn't find one I liked, so I just overlaid text on a grid and painted in the squares in Photoshop.

It is small, so it didn't take long to make.

The hardest part was finding the frame for it, ha. Shadow boxes for a 5"x7" pattern are super deep. It looked weird. I found this matted frame at Hobby Lobby during a 50% off sale. I ended up hot gluing white fabric to the cardboard backing and pinning the stitch to that.

Next? I think doing the world map from A Link to the Past would be epic. It would also take a year. No idea where it would go in my house.



Wednesday, November 14, 2012

TV Purchasing Guide

A few friends asked my advice when looking to purchase a new TV. Here is a quick guide of the various TV Specs to consider when looking to purchase a new TV, ordered from most important to least important.

Here's a link to all the TV's for sale Black Friday:

Size and Resolution

How close will you be sitting to the TV? The bigger the TV, the farther you will need to sit and the more expensive the TV will be.

Resolution of 720p vs 1080p? Always go for 1080p, especially if you're getting a TV over 32". The difference is very noticeable in larger TV's. Also, if you plan on watching TV in HD, why waste it on a 720p TV?

Below is a chart of screen size, resolution and viewing distance to help you decide what you need. (Original chart here)


Plasma, LCD, and LED TV's are all very similar nowadays. In order of best to worst is LED, LCD, then Plasma. LED has better contrast (black is blacker!) than LCD. LED also uses less electricity than the others. That being said, unless you're a picture snob and have the TV's side by side to compare, the difference is negligible.

Refresh Rate

60Hz, 120Hz, 240Hz etc. Honestly, my TV is 60Hz, and I never noticed a problem. The higher the refresh rate the clearer fast moving images are, like for watching sports games. So, higher is better, but in my opinion, it's really not an issue.


Cheaper TV's tend to skimp out on inputs. Consider what you need to plug into your TV currently and what you might need to plug in in the future. I would try pretty hard to get one with at least 3 HDMI, 1 Component (the 5 plug one, Green, Blue, Orange, Red, White), and a digital audio out (for surround sound).

Viewing Angle

I definitely recommend seeing the TV in person and turned on before purchasing. Some TVs lose picture quality if not viewing directly in front of the TV. I am not positive if this is a brand, type, or brand and type issue.

This happens with my 32" LCD TV, but not my 42" LCD TV. I noticed it happening to some Vizio TV's at Sams but not others, and I forgot to see if they were LCD, LED, or Plasma.

On the other hand, if you never plan on looking at the TV from an angle, then you have nothing to worry about.


Research your brand and read reviews about various TV's made by that brand before making the decision. Name brand TV's (Panasonic, Toshiba, Sony, Samsung) are usually safe decisions and have good customer service. I read that Vizios are pretty good for the price, but they tend to have poorer picture when viewing at an angle. Again, unless you're a TV snob, the pictures are very similar. Name brands like Samsung do seem to have richer colors when side by side with cheaper TV's. Will you notice that when the TV is sitting in your living room? Doubtful.

Smart TV / Wi-Fi

I would not pay over $60 extra for a Smart TV if having Netflix, Pandora, etc on your TV is very important to you. You can just buy a Roku at that point and plug it in.

Note the difference between "Internet capable / Internet ready / Wi-Fi ready" and Built-in Wi-Fi. The former terms require either running an ethernet cable from your router to your TV or buying an additional piece for the TV (~$80) to get the Wi-Fi. Built-in Wi-Fi can use Wi-Fi out of the box.

If you get a Smart TV and cannot hook it up to the internet, then the whole Smart thing is pointless because you won't be able to use it.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Buying my First Home: 2nd Try

2/16/2012: Walkthrough

I do a walkthrough of the house, which is priced at $159,900. I don't expect to get it because it's way above my budget, but what the hell! I give it a shot. The house is really nice - 1600sqft, two car garage, lots of land, good neighborhood. Put in a bid for $142,000 with a closing date of 3/23.

2/17/2012: Wait what? They accepted the bid??

Surprisingly, they accept our bid. Turns out they were on the edge of foreclosing and $142,000 was as low as they could go. In looking up the house's history, we saw they bought it new for $130,000 in 2000 (before the boom and then crisis), so honestly, they're still making money. They were trying to sell it for $189,000 back in June and kept lowering the price.

2/27/2012: Inspection Done. House has termites.

Inspection done. I pay $230 this time. The inspector gives me a discount for using him a second time. We get a termite inspection done too, which costs me $78. They find termites in the front corner of the house.

2/28/2012: We ask for repairs.

We ask the seller to fix garbage disposal, attic fan, and renew the termite contract.

2/29/2012: I give 30 day notice to my apartment.

I give my apartment 30 day notice of leaving and cancel my month to month lease. We have the inspection done and everything is looking great to close on 3/23. This will give me a full week to move out of the apartment by 4/1.

3/6/2012: Oh yea, we have a second mortgage.

The title company in doing their job finds out that the sellers have a second mortgage on the house that they told no one about. The title company contacts capital one and starts the short sale process. They do feel we will be closing this sale but it may at the end of the month instead of March 23.

The seller did not disclose to us that they had a home equity line against the property with Capital One. We discovered when out title work came back that there was another mortgage with Capital One. The seller called me back yesterday afternoon to confirm that there was a balance on the mortgage. There will not be sufficient funds to pay off Capital One. I am working with the seller and Capital One to do a short sale on their second mortgage. We are just getting this process started. I finally got the information needed from the seller this morning.

We will do our best to assist the seller with the short sale process with Capital One. From my experience, Capital One can be a challenge to work with, but we are hoping to get this done as quickly as possible.

- Title Company

3/7/2012: Seller agrees to do all repairs.

The seller has been very agreeable through the whole process. He sends a check to the termite people to renew the contract and agrees to fix the garbage disposal and attic fan.

3/16/2012: No closing date in sight

Title company submits all paperwork to capital one and requests a timeline. We go from “end of the month” to “no closing date in sight.” This presents a problem because I already told the apartment I was leaving.
[The title company] said everything has been submitted to the bank for their review.  She requested a time line from the bank when this will all be resolved but has had no reply... We are still in limbo with them as to when we will be able to close.  First I was told it should close by the end on the month and now there is no closing date in sight.  I am very frustrated as I am sure you are too.  I would like to draw up an extension to April 10, and do extensions as needed.- JoAnn

3/19/2012: Sellers agree to pre-sale rent

Seller agrees that I should be able to move into the house pre-sale since I would be homeless on 4/1.

3/22/2012: Sign rent contract, turn on utilities

I sign the pre-sale rent contract to move in early. I also sign a contract extension from 3/23 to 4/30. I put all utilities in my name and pay way too many service fees.

3/23/2012: Appraisal

Appraisal goes through ($400 out of my pocket).

3/24/2012: Moving Day

I call in lots of family and friends to help me move from the apartment into the the new house.

3/27/2012: Turn in Apartment Keys

I finish cleaning the apartment and turn in our keys. I turn off all utilities at the apartment.

3/28/2012: Notice of Seizure

Notice of Seizure
The sheriff delivers a notice of seizure to Zane at the house and freaks him out. It says that we have to vacate in 3 days because of a suit from Citimortgage. Seller’s agent tells us to ignore the notice. She says it was put on the books before they got an offer on the house.

4/3/2012: My Loan Reaches Rural Development

My loan finally reached RD. It was sent 3/22.

4/9/2012: Amend the Contract to $143,000.

I sign a contract amendment that agrees that the sale price is now $143,000, but the seller will pay the $1000 difference. I do not understand this but trust JoAnn.

4/10/2012: We settle in, paint, clean, fix things

Painting the Living Room Red
In our confidence that we’re getting the house, we spend $100 painting the living room. I also invest many man hours and money installing blinds, cleaning, getting a washer and dryer, cleaning the back yard, etc.

4/12/2012: Closing day! No, wait, nope.

My lender calls to tell me my RD has gone through and we can close! I'm very excited. We've gone through a lot of ups and downs to get here.

Then the title company calls. They let me know that they led the lender to believe the short sale with Capital One was complete so that the lender would finish with RD. The title company didn't want the lender to be the hold up.

I learn that Capital One (the second mortgage) is what's holding everything up. If we don't close by 4/13, Capital One will not get their agreed upon amount. I am told if this happens, someone will have to pay $3100 extra because Capital One will not agree on less. If Capital One doesn't get paid, the house will most likely go to foreclosure. I will be kicked out, and no one will live in the house for about a year until the bank finally gets around to putting it back on the market.

The title company calls Capital One 13 times. They do not respond. Turns out the man in charge of our file took off today.

4/13/2012: Still waiting on Capital One

The contact at Capital One is in today and pushes the short sale to his higher ups. He promises that it will go through today, Friday, or by Monday. He is aware of the urgency of the deal.

The seller’s agent lets us know that the sellers are willing to pay the extra money if the deal does not go through today.

Just to update everyone on the status of this file, I still do NOT have a short sale approval letter from Capital One to be able to close. I spoke with my contact at Capital One who confirmed that everything was submitted to his approval department and he expected us to receive an approval letter today or Monday. It is out of my contact’s hands at this time. Once he receives approval I will be his first contact. He knows the situation and the urgency of closing. However, we are dealing with a large bank who is not sympathetic to the situation unfortunately.

At this time I am not confident that we would close today as it is now 1:30 pm and I would need to wire the funds to Citimortgage by 3pm today to receive credit for the payoff today. I have left a message for Citimortgage’s attorney and have emailed him regarding the payoff status. The new payoff thatCitimortgage provided me good through 4/23 is $2,402.73 higher than the current payoff. Which means that Capital One would not be able to net $5000 (which is the minimum amount that they will accept) unless the seller’s have the additional funds to bring to closing.

I am sorry that I do not have better news for you. I will let everyone know if I receive anything.

- Title Company


My lender extends the RD rate lock and pays for it herself. She lets us know we have to close by 4/25.

The title company lets me know that the sellers in fact do NOT have the extra money for closing.
The seller’s agent (and pretty much everyone else) keeps trying to get in touch with capital one’s foreclosure department and the initial contact’s supervisor.

Unfortunately, at this time we still have not received an approval from Capital One for the short pay amount of $5000. This amount was determined by the short sale negotiator. I have repeatedly called and emailed Capital One regarding the status but it is now in the hands of a different department pending an approval.

At this time the seller’s first mortgage payoff good through 4/23/12 has increased and they now would have to come up with $3151.98 in order to the seller property if the terms remain the same. The sellers do not have the funds to come up with for closing. This is the reason we rushed everything in order to close last week as we were told by the short sale negotiator that he would have an approval to us in 1-2 days. If we did not close by 4/13 than the sellers would need additional funds to close and the sellers do not have the additional funds to close.

I emailed and called Capital One again this morning, but have nothing new to report.

- Title Company

4/19/2012: Notice on Door, Seller trying to find money

Citimortgage Notice
A notice is put on the front door that says to call Citimortgage. I tried calling, but they were busy. I let JoAnn know.

The seller's agent is trying to help the seller find the appropriate funds to pay off Capital One.

Capital One has still not come through.

Just to update everyone. I emailed Luis [the contact at Capital One] yesterday and today. I spoke with him a few minutes ago.  He is waiting on response for the director; since the loan is current he has to get a higher approval and this is what is taking so long. Normally, this type of short sales immediately get declined, but due to the status of the first lien holder filing foreclosure, Luis is trying to work around this. Luis has management working on this as well.

I have been following up via email and phone calls daily on this. I’m sorry that I don’t have better news to update you.

- Title Company

4/20/2012: Today

And that brings us to today, Friday. The offer with Citimortgage expires on Monday. I've been holding off on life until this is resolved. This is a roller coaster ride where it feels like Capital One keeps screwing everyone over with how inefficient they are.

Buying my First Home: 40 Belle Vu Loop

9/13/2011: Got a Realtor

40 Belle Vu Loop
I get in touch with JoAnn for the first time.

At some point over the next month Zane and I see 40 Belle Vu Loop on Zillow for $149,900. We love the location and drive by to check it out. It is two minutes from the interstate, has an open kitchen, nice back yard, decent neighborhood, but it is too expensive.

11/7/2011: House Price Drop

House price is reduced to $139,900. I contact JoAnn to see the house.

11/13/2011: House Walkthrough

I check out house with JoAnn as well as with some other houses. I don't make a decision yet because I haven't seen many houses and don't want to jump on the first one.

11/22/2011: House Under Contract by Someone Else

Someone else grabs the house. I'm a little disappointed, but it's also expected.

11/29/2011: Miracle? House Back on the Market

House comes back on the market. The buyer had a stroke and no longer wanted the property. Zane and I joke about the house being cursed or that my mom prayed too hard.

12/1/2011: Bid Accepted

Seller accepts our bid for $135,970 (which includes a year warranty). Contracts are signed including the short sale contract, which I later find out states the bank can back out of the contract any time and can change how much they want for the house at their whim.

12/7/2011: Problems Getting the Inspection

We have 10 days after the signing of the contract to get inspections done. This means it has to be done by 12/11. We have to reschedule the home inspection because the seller hasn't turned on the water. We get an extension on the contract in case we're unable to get the inspection before the 11th.

12/9/2011: Inspection Done

House inspection is completed. It costs me $255.

12/21/2011: Contract Accepted with No Repairs

We send a list of repairs needed to the house. The seller is not willing to do repairs. I expect this and accept the contract anyway.

12/21/2011: Order the Appraisal

We tell the lender to go ahead with the appraisal, which costs me $400.

12/23/2011: Seller's Agent Sends the Contract to the Bank to approve

After we've already done the inspection and have the appraisal being scheduled, the Seller's agent finally sends the contract to the bank to approve. We do not find out about this for 5 days.

12/28/2011: Bank Does Not Accept Contract

The seller's agent lets us know that the bank did not accept the contract. This is after she had told JoAnn that the bank had already agreed to it. The bank now wants $145,000, which is $5,100 over their initial listing price and $9030 over what I thought we already agreed on.
We got a response back from the bank.  They need to have a net proceed of $132,440.  Right now we have a net of $125,160.62.  We need a purchase price of $145,000 to get this approved after you back out commissions, title insurance and title fees.  In addition they did not approve the home warranty.
Please confirm with your buyer and let me know if we can proceed.
Thanks so much! 
- Seller's Agent
We contact our lender and tell them to cancel the appraisal ASAP. Luckily it didn't go through and they, with my approval, hold onto the $400 for when we actually get an appraisal done.

1/2/2012: Seller's Agent Says it's ONLY $5930 More!

Seller says that we’re ONLY $5930 off from what they need to sell the house. They’ll EVEN agree to maybe cutting some of their commission if my agent does the same. They let me know that $5930 is a minimal increase in the monthly amount over a 30 year loan.
You, of course, will get the deposit check of $500 returned to you, I just need to get cancellation signed.  Turner Real Estate Group is not responsible for the inspection.

We apologize that the bank did not approve this offer.  You did however sign documentation stating that you understand the bank has the final word on whether or not they will approve the contract.  We submitted everything as is usually done and the bank at any time has the right to change the terms of what is required.

At this point we are approximately $5930 off from where we need to be.  TREG would entertain cutting some commission to make this work, but there would have to have help from the buyers and possibly selling agent as well.  If your buyer is able to increase his loan it would only be a minimal increase to him on his monthly note.

We hope we can come to some sort of agreement.  If not, we are going to have to put the house back on the market.

Thanks so much!
- Seller's Agent

1/4/2012: Cancellation Agreement Signed

I sign cancellation agreement. They do not agree to refund the $255 inspection fee.

I continue looking for a house.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Biggest Loser Wrap Up

Initially this was a 6 week competition, but it got chopped down to 5 weeks because of conflicts.  My team's name was Phat No Mo. Our biggest competition was Slimmer Skimmers (Accounting) and Weapons of Mass Reduction (Marketing). We were neck and neck for half the race, always trailing behind in 3rd. That is, until week 3 when we got ahead of the WMR by less than a percent. Then on Week 4 we passed WMR and were .07% behind Slimmer Skimmers.

This competition was solely based on weight percent lost - not fat percent lost. A gallon a water weighs 8lbs. The day before the last weigh in, both Janel and I didn't drink anything beyond lunch time, and what we did drink that day was all caffeine or lemon based to squeeze all the water out of our systems. We woke up early on weigh-in morning, Saran-wrapped ourselves, and sat in the steam room for 15 minutes.

Needless to say, I lost almost 9lbs for that weigh in. My standard loss was about 3-4lbs a week, so I lost 5lbs of water!

I was so thirsty that morning. We went up early to be the first to weigh (and the first to grab some water afterwards).

Everyone gathered in the first floor lobby at 2pm for the winners to be announced. There were 13 groups of 5 at the start. Most didn't show up for the final announcement, but there were a number of cheerers. Weapons of Mass Reduction came in 3rd (5.25%), Slimmer Skimmers in 2nd (6.03%), and Phat No Mo in 1st (6.61%)!

I have to mention that we won even with one of our team members bowing out of the race early on. From then on, her weekly weight loss was counted as 0, and we kept her total weight in our tally - and we still won!

I got a special prize for being the person to lose the most pounds out of everyone (27). I really expected Janel to win this because she lost about 10% whereas I lost 8%. PLUS, she deserves a LOT of the credit for our team winning. Not only did she pull huge numbers, but without her, I doubt I would have done as well.

She inspired the heck out of our whole team and we won because of it. She's the one who got me to join her at Star Fitness Center (although she did win an iPad from it ;) ), and she's the one who figuratively held my hand through my first exercise classes.

Our team got:
  • Biggest Loser Gold Medal!
  • An Exercise Band
  • $50 Visa Gift Card
  • Cold/Heat Press Pad
  • Year Membership to Holiday Fitness
  • 30 Minute Massage Gift Certificate
  • $5 Smoothie King Gift Card

As the Biggest Loser, I got:

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Afghan Done, New Projects to Start

Finished the Afghan for Dad last Friday. He liked it. It took a little over a month to complete.

Onward to projects 2 and 3: Design/build a website and design/build/fix/add on to my parents' pool deck!

Friday, July 15, 2011


Yay for crock pots! Even semi broken ones.  The handles on my cover came off, so now I have to trickily pry it open with a spatula or other device and avoid the 3rd-degree-burning steam that comes out. It's okay. I have the skills.

Here's another recipe I edited for my own liking. About a year ago, I tried looking up a crock pot recipe for Jambalaya and came across Colleen's Slow Cooker Jambalaya. I made it and liked it, but it is most definitely not Jambalaya. This is why I now call it my Fambalaya (fake jambalaya) recipe.

I changed all the meat to chicken and added garlic and baby carrots... because that's what I like. When I made it yesterday, I put around 2 teaspoons of Tony's in it. That adds a lot of sodium though, so I think I'll leave that spice for after it is cooked next time.

It makes 11 cups worth of food, so that's how I divided the servings. The picture (which I ate! (pictures are tasty (especially pictures of this recipe))) is 2 cups of the crock pot and then 1 cup of brown rice, which was around 590 calories.


Ingredients Calories Carbs Fat Protein Fiber
Yellow Onion, 1 large 60 14 0 2 3
Celery 2 cup chopped 28 6 0 1 3
Chicken Broth 99% Fat Free, 2 cup 10 0 0 1 0
Oregano 2 tsp 6 1 0 0 1
Parsley 2 tsp 1 0 0 0 0
Thyme 1 tsp 3 1 0 0 0
Diced Tomatoes (28oz) 175 28 0 7 7
Baby Carrots, 1 Cup 50 12 0 2 4
Green Bell Pepper 26 6 0 1 1
Tony Chachere's - Cajun Seasoning, 1 tsp 0 0 0 0 0
Minced Garlic, 2 cloves 8 2 0 0 2
Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, 3lb 1,320 0 30 276 0
Total: 1679 68 30 290 19
Per Serving (11 - 1 cup each): 186 6 6 24 2