Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Blog to Follow.....

I guess I must be a blog stalker.....a couple of months ago I clicked on the link to a blog that was on Jessica's blog and from that point forward I looked forward to seeing new posts on his blog.

I don't know him...and he doesn't know me, but I did finally comment on one of his posts and he was nice enough to respond! According to his blog, Andrew always wanted to be a "rock star".....in my opinion, he succeeded! He's definitely a rock star and I just love his "concerts"! They add a bright spot to my day, which sometimes really needs it.

Check out Andrew at his blog! I haven't asked, but I have a feeling he wouldn't mind having a few more in his audience....he's great!

Friday, March 27, 2009

This isn't quite what I had in mind........

........this online French class thing isn't exactly what I thought it would be, but I did learn one thing! I learned that I don't really want to learn how to speak French....I want to learn how to communicate in French. I know I will be traveling with two wonderful French speaking friends, but my luck is that I won't be with them and I "gotta go"!

So my new "haunt" is about.com, where you can find out absolutely anything you want to know "about" anything you want to know! I think I'll also stop by Barnes and Noble to see what they have.....might help to have some kind of tape to listen to while I'm driving!

Again, I'll keep you "posted".......

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I'm "Back to School"!

Well, not really.......I found a website where I can take French lessons. It's called FrenchAssistant.com and it looks like this will be fun! However, I haven't yet figured out why they think I need to learn how to say things like, "Le pingouin visite l'Antarctique" (The penguin visits the Antartic) or "Les extraterrestres font une autopsie" (The extra-terrestrials do an autopsy). What I really had in mind were things like, "Which way to the subway?", "Where's the bathroom?","Where's the closest bar?".

Oh dear....is it possible that those things are harder to say than "the penguin visits the Antartic" or "the extra-terrestrials do an autopsy"? Hmmm.....this might just be harder than I thought! I'll keep you posted!

Monday, March 23, 2009

How do you say "Auld Lang Syne" in French....Jessica? Melinda?

I'm giddy at the thought that I will spend my next New Year's Eve in Paris, France! I've spent the last 5 hours looking at apartments, even taking a "Google street tour" around the neighborhoods of the ones I like. I've sent everyone the links and I'm waiting to get "the votes" back, but I've chosen the one I want. Hint: It's the one that has the kitchen in the blog below! It is sooo to die for....and it's less expensive than most of the places I've found. The neighborhood has an Italian restaurant two blocks away (Melinda) and several street cafes within a few blocks (all of us!).

Anyway, I've also been researching "things to do in Paris on New Year's Eve" and (shock me!) it's NOT spending the evening at the base of the Eiffel Tower! The hot place to be is the Champs Elyssee! Supposedly this area has the best views of all of the fireworks in Paris.....you can even see the display at the Eiffell Tower. I thought about it and figured all of the lights on the Eiffel Tower could be distracting from the fireworks. It's kind of like a more relaxed "Time Square on New Year's Eve" and I think it's a fabulous idea! AND we'll be in France.....REAL champagne on New Year's eve! Loves it!

I've watched several "New Year's in Paris" on YouTube, but I have to tell you I haven't seen the first bit of fireworks! But I understand, fireworks/firecrackers can be legally bought in Paris....I can tell you of one person who will definitely "partake"!!!

To Parisians, the New Year is highly regarded.....in fact, they send out greeting cards (which I only do if I didn't get the time to send out Christmas cards) and they wish each other "happy new year" throughout the whole month! Dang....can you imagine walking down the street saying that for a whole month!

Anyway, all I can say is that I have alot to learn before this trip......my "french pronunciation" lesson started today when I was trying to tell Melinda something. She was gracious, but I heard the chuckle that she didn't chuckle!

Dennis lived in France as a small child, but the only thing he can say in French is "pass the bread and butter, please".....and he does it with a Southern accent! I suppose you could get by if that's all you know how to say......bread and butter in France....works for me!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

I Need A Place to Stay!!!!

Exciting New!!!! We're going to Paris!!!! I know, I can't believe it myself! But on December 27, 2009 I will mark off my #1 thing on my bucket list.....go to Europe!

We always TRY to go somewhere between Christmas and New Years because it's the one time of the year that we can pretty much count on the real estate business being slow. The first year we went to New York City....what a blast we had! The next year we did a road trip to West Virginia....we went to Snowshoe and then drove all through the mountains finding odd things to do (in WV....no way!) and neat places to stay (in WV....no way!)!

Soooo, when Melinda suggested going to Paris this year, we jumped....with both feet! Then I called Shelby and now she and Justin are going, too!!! It doesn't get better than that!
So, the whole "crew" (at this point) consists of Melinda and Brad, Jessica and Adam, Anna and Will, me and Dennis and Shelby and Justing.....TEN people! How cool is that? Anyone else want to join us? Speak now or forever hold your peace!

I'm not a big fan of hotel rooms, so when we travel I always try to find alternative solutions to accomodations. Besides, we're going to Paris.......I want to "accomodate" myself the way the Parisians do! Soooooooo....I've spent a good portion of my weekend trying to find apartments in Paris that will accomodate TEN people. Ha Ha Ha Ha.......apartments in Paris in tall AND small.....and there are few that have 5 bedrooms! But compared to all of us getting hotel rooms, I think it's the way to go! Besides having a kitchen to cook (OHMIGOD) with some of the finest ingredients in the world, we would have a washer and dryer (hence having to take less clothes!) and we could all be together!

I'm probably not the BEST person to be searching for this abode.....while most only care that there is a pillow for their heads, I'm looking for the real Paris experience. One of my most FAVE movies is "Until September", which takes place in Paris. I think the setting was one of the things I loved the most.

So here are a few pics of what I've found.....and how I feel about them:

The picture above looks like it's straight out of "Until September".....I so want to walk through that door!

And I soooo want to cook in this kitchen!!

And I soooo want to soak in this tub after a long day visiting the Avenue des Champs-Élysées.

Anyway, after spending most of the weekend googleing "vacation apartments in Paris", or variations thereof, I finally found one that was on Craiglist. I did a further search and there are TONS of them at that site! If it hadn't been 1 AM I would have kept searching....but I couldn't keep my eyes open, so I'll have to check them out later.....I'll keep you posted!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Isn't She Adorable!!!!

Here's a much better picture of my adorable GrandDog.....isn't she just the cutest thing! I think she and Shugs are just gonna love each other!!!
I think I see a little mischief in those eyes.....don't you? Or is she just wondering why her Mommy keeps putting this strange thing up to her face and making big light.......hard to say!
I can't wait to meet you, Lily!!!!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Free Money.......get it while you can!!!

Yep...it's true! And all you have to do is buy a house between now and December 1, 2009!!! Well, it's not quite that simple, but almost. As with anything the government does, there is criteria that has to be met! Here's how it works.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 authorizes a tax credit of up to $8,000 for qualified "first-time home buyers" purchasing a principal residence on or after January 1, 2009 and before December 1, 2009. A "qualified" first time home buyer is one that has not owned a home within the last three years. In the case of a married couple, neither can have owned a home within the last three years. However, unmarried joint purchasers may allocate the credit amount to any buyer who qualifies as a first-time buyer, such as may occur if a parent jointly purchases a home with a son or daughter. Ownership of a vacation home or rental property not used as a principal residence does not disqualify a buyer as a first-time home buyer.

The tax credit is 10% of the purchase price of the home, up to a maximum credit of $8000.00.....and it's FREE money....no repayment required! The tax credit amount is reduced for buyers with a modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) of more than $75,000 for single taxpayers and $150,000 for married taxpayers filing a joint return. The tax credit amount is reduced to zero for taxpayers with MAGI of more than $95,000 (single) or $170,000 (married) and is reduced proportionally for taxpayers with MAGIs between these amounts. Partial credits of less than $8,000 are available for some taxpayers whose MAGI exceeds the phaseout limits.
More important points:
  • You must use the property you purchased as your primary residence for three years.
  • The tax credit is a dollar for dollar reduction in the amount of taxes you owe....if you owe less than $8000, the IRS will actually cut you a check in the amount over and above what you owe!
  • If you have already bought a home and you have already filed your taxes taking advantage of the previous tax credit guidelines, you can file an amended 2008 tax return with a 1040X form. You should consult with a tax advisor to ensure you file this return properly.
  • If you buy a home in 2009, you can decide whether to take advantage of the tax credit on your 2008 return or your 2009 return. I recommend consulting a tax advisor to determine which way is best.
  • If you decide to take the credit on your 2009 return, keep in mind that you can always reduce your tax withholding by the amount of the credit, hence taking advantage of a great take home pay. If you decide to go this route, you may want to consider using that increase in income to save up for the downpayment! Great, great idea!
  • If you purchased your home between April 9, 2008 and January 1, 2009 you may qualify for a different tax credit.

I know that there are alot of potential home buyers that are just afraid that the market hasn't hit bottom. Well, let me offer you some advice......first of all, it's not possible to predict where the bottom is. Secondly, you won't know we've hit "bottom" until the market is going back up and then it's too late......you'll join the millions of others scrambling to buy a home, rates will go up (it's that "supply and demand" thing)....and you may find yourself in the same situation we were in just a few years ago: bidding wars on homes!

I know there are some great buys out there right now. Mortgage lenders and servicers with foreclosure properties in their portfolios are doing everything they can to make repairs to these homes and get them in the condition required for prime financing. At the very least, you owe it to yourself to get out there and check out the mortgage financing guidelines and rates and to see what is available in the price range your price range. If you could stop paying your landlord's mortgage payment AND make money off the deal, why not!?

Finally.....we are all in this economic mess together. The only way to get out of it is if we do exactly what we're afraid to do....spend...buy....invest in our future and our country's future. And we can be thankful that this great nation is doing all it can to make it more affordable and rewarding for us to do so.

Oh wait.....I forgot.....if any of you decide to "take the leap", I am always here to help! I have over 35 years of mortgage banking experience and I can lend in ALL 50 states!!!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

What a show!

I feel like I've been chained to my Dell for quite some time now, so this past weekend I really wanted to get out and do something.....even a drive around the block sounded good! Of course, I wasn't too sure if I could remember how to drive!
So, when Melinda called on Saturday night to tell me about the Quilt Show she'd gone to that day in Hampton and to invite me to go on Sunday, I thought that sounded like a great idea. Now I'm not a "quilter", but Mom was and I knew it took a great deal of work and patience....I lack in the latter.

Well, I wasn't disappointed and was, in fact, quite amazed at the detail. Dennis decided to go along for the ride just to get out of the house....then Brad decided to go and the two of them would go to Bass Pro Shops across the street while Melin and I checked out the quilts.

Here are some of the quilts we saw (forgive the BAD photography...still working on that and not making much progress):

I can't believe the details in these pieces of art! And I can't imagine the time and creativity it took to produce something sooo beautiful.

The colors were just amazing and the details mind boggling......I almost felt dizzy just looking at some of them.

The quilt below is made of pieces of fabric that have been hand stamped....it's so much more beautiful than it appears here!

I fell in love with the pattern below....it's called "French Braid"...I figure that all of my years of french braiding Shelby's hair when she was little should come in handy if I ever decided to make a quilt.....no?

I have to admit that I have never even though of adding "go to a quilt show" to my bucket list, but I am so glad that I went. Thanks, Melin, for thinking of me for this adventure....I just loved it!

After the show, the guys picked us up and we went to Chili's for lunch and el Presidente margaritas! It was delicious!

And a good time was had by ALL! What a great day to spend when it's pouring down raining outside....get out in it!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Better Late Than Never.....

.......and better little than none, I guess. We didn't get as much snow as was expected (hoped for), but there was a little dusting when we woke up this morning. Later this afternoon it snowed a bit more, although it was too light to add much to the "dusting". Further west got quite a bit more than we did......maybe I should move!

I'm still not giving up on getting a good snow around here......some of the best we've had came later in March. Of course, you know I'll keep you posted!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Snow.....Still Up In The Air.......

...and whether it comes down or not is something none of our weathermen are willing to predict. Lucky for John Cash, he is off on the weekends, so his reputation is preserved....somewhat...he did, after all, wear his snowflake boutonniere on Friday.

I'll keep you posted.........