Monday, June 15, 2009

Why I Love Renting

Top Ten Reasons Why I Love Renting!

1) Someone else gets to fix your appliances, at their expense.

2) When your neighbor complains that your tree is too far over on their lot, and should be cut back, I get to reply, “I’ll let the landlord know.” (This happened yesterday, and I was so glad that I didn’t have to be the one making the decision!)

3) No long-term commitment. We can change our minds easily and without regret.

4) When you’re low on money for house repairs, renting often takes care of that problem. You’d LIKE to replace the tiles in the kitchen, but you can’t, because it ain’t yours to replace – plus, you really don’t have the money. Problem solved.

5) Saves you money on housing. (Well, sometimes. It does in our case).

6) Rather than settling for a starter home, we can save our money up for our dream place and (hopefully) never have to move again.

7) We really want to buy a house here, but we’re both new to this specific town. Renting allows us to explore the neighborhoods and get to know the area (and what areas we like best) before buying.

8) No worries about inflation, variable rates, property tax, etc.

9) Let’s face it; we don’t have the money right now to buy. Yes, it’s a buyer’s market, but we have a lot of student loan debt and right now we need to focus on our debt and starting our family. I’m not ashamed to admit that we just don’t have the money. I think that honesty is what this country needs right now – rather than trying to keep up with the Joneses, people need to start admitting that they can’t afford everything. Period.

10) Renting makes you appreciate what you have. My husband and I both desperately want our own little house to call our own, but it’s just not in the cards right now. Not being able to get what you want all the time is humbling, and makes you realize what is really important – family, friends, and being thankful that you at least have a roof over your head and food on the table (which many, many in this world do not).

Check out oh Amanda for more bloggy list fun.

Our new place!

I'm so excited to FINALLY share with all of you pictures of our new place! Yes, it's a rental, but it's OUR rental, and darn it if I will let that stand in the way of me indulging in my home decor passions.
Mind you, I took these pictures before we moved in, so you could see the blank slate. We've been working hard at putting all of our stuff away, and I can't wait to start decorating the heck out of this place.
Here's our place from the outside. I would love to paint the shutters and front door red to add some pop (which our landlord might let us do), but for now, it's clean and simple.
Living Room & Dining Room

Other side of the living room

(What do you guys think of the accent wall? Any ideas for accent colors in the room? I'm thinking oranges and reds, but I'm not sure....)

Downstairs Half-Bath (this wall is just crying for something...)

Other view of the half bath - again, nice neutral colors, but we need to add some color. Yes, those are my feet.
Kitchen (that table is NOT mine, and will go out with the garage sale)
Closer view of the kitchen - almost everything is brand new! You have no idea how great it is to finally have a brand new kitchen to cook in. I actually WANT to cook now.
Looking into the family room/den from the kitchen - the bookcase against the accent wall must stay, as it's attached to the wall. This is probably the most awkward room, since it's so long. But I have some ideas for making it work.
Upstairs, here we have the master bedroom. Beautiful, isn't it.

This is one of the two bedrooms that we can paint, since my landlord never did. Thank god, because I seriously can't sleep in that color any more. It reminds me of what a care bear would vomit.

When you paint your bedroom light yellow, WHY NOT paint the master bathroom purple? Who are these people? Why did anyone at Home Depot let them pick these colors?

If you thought the master bedroom had bad colors, check out one of the bedrooms. My landlord told me that the entire house was in primary colors like this. Because, you know, when you paint three walls turquoise....

The fourth wall should be bright red. How sophisticated.

This room will definitely get painted soon, and maybe turn into a baby room? Fingers crossed!

This is the other upstairs bathroom, which I've taken over. We can't paint this one, and it already has a nautical-ish theme going on. I normally wouldn't have picked navy blue like this (I typically like lighter colors), but hey, I'm a renter, so I'm just going with it. I'm already picturing a nice white framed print, some white coral, maybe something with twine....

Guest bedroom, with more of the navy blue / nautical theme. This will probably stay the guest room, but I want to dress it up a bit more.

So there you have it - our new place! Not bad for a rental, huh? I keep walking around and telling my husband that the place is HUGE! I mean, three bathrooms? Who needs that many? But we really like it, and it's starting to feel more like a home.
Keep reading for updates on what I do to the place....

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Part 5 - Grandpa's House!

8) Grandpa's House

I bet when you first read that I was going to go through all of the places I've lived, you thought, oh, how cute and charming. What a lovely trip down memory lane. Little did you realize that I have lived in so many different places, and that this series would never end. Yeah, well, neither did I....

On to the last place I lived, where I just moved from...Grandpa's House! You see, while Tony and I were living it up scared to death of the gang next door in style, my wonderful and loving Grandpa Frank (whom I adore) had a series of bad falls (as one does in their eighties) and needed a lot of extra help. Since Grandpa wasn't too bad off, and just needed someone to help with the cooking, cleaning, etc., my parents came up with the great idea that Tony and I move in with Grandpa Frank, which happens to be down the street from them, and help take care of him in exchange for rent.

We took my parents up on the offer, for a number of reasons - we were broke and desperately trying to save up for our wedding; we wanted to get out of the city; and, of course, we loved Grandpa Frank. So we did and took care of Grandpa for about a year.

When we first moved in, I spent several months just clearing out junk and trash and clutter from 70's on. Here's what I learned about grandparents: they save everything. Rubber bands, paper clips, receipts...must be a leftover from the Depression. Let me put it this way: my grandmother had the property tax from her & her parent's house going back to 1920. Yeah. So I spent a great deal of time organizing, tossing, and archiving (of photographs, etc.). Don't worry, I kept the taxes.

Now, although everyone warned me that caring for the elderly would be difficult, I didn't quite prepare myself. And although I loved caring for G.F., it was very hard, especially as he physically had a lot of problems. So, sadly, we as a family had to move Grandpa Frank into an assisted living facility about a year ago. But in the end, it was the best decision for him: he gets around the clock care, gets to meet people and make friends, and hey, he's even got computer classes now! (Grandpa Frank, if you're reading this, Hi!).

Anyways, I loved that little ranch house, and wished we could have stayed, but alas, our jobs require us to move (still in Chicagoland, but closer to our commutes). Here's a few shots of Grandpa's house (post my organizing, of course!).

You've already seen the library....

Here's our bedroom - which is what our next new bedroom will most likely look like....

The big backyard with our red fox visitors....
I will miss that house! But, on the next project...

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Part 4 - Living it up in the city...

6) Grad school in Obama's backyard

After I graduated as an undergrad, I decided that I hadn't had enough of theory and literature and other urbane topics, so I applied to grad school. I got into my dream of dream schools, the University of Chicago, to earn a MA in Humanities. I still think there was some mistake, and that my name got mistakenly placed on the "accept" list rather than the "throw out" list.

But in any case, I packed up and moved to our current President's neighborhood of Hyde Park on the southside of Chicago (for all of my Chicago peeps, SOUTHSIDE!!!). I rented a grad student studio, on the fourth floor of a walkup, complete with radiators and squeeky wood floors that made my downstairs neighbor hate me.

Unfortunately, the only pictures that I could find of my little studio are of my cat, so I swear, I'm not just blogging more about my cat. Oh, this is also the apartment in which I first had Eddie.

Here, Eddie is sitting before one of the windows, which overlooked a beautiful park. Hyde Park has a colony of feral parrots living in its trees (yes, you heard right, feral parrots). You'd look out at northern Illinois tree varieties and see little green and yellow parrots flying around.

Here you can see a glimpse of 1) the beautiful wood floors, 2) the brown armchair that I got for free (FREE!) that Tony now hates and wants me to get rid of but I refuse because I've had it since grad school, and 3) the pale look of one overtired/underfed grad student.

Here, a visiting Tony (we were long distance at the time) sits at my desk, which is where I lived for that entire year. Again, for my Chicago peeps, notice the Marshall Field's shopping bag behind him. We miss you Marshall Fields!

The navy blue theme continued unabated...

7) Living in Sin Moving in Together

Well, years of Catholic schooling and upbringing failed, and Tony and I decided to move in together. (We got engaged right after though, so I predict only a minor sentence in Purgatory as our punishment). I spent the last few weeks of grad school traveling all over Chi-town, looking for cheap rent, and finally found a three bedroom (3!) in the neighborhood of Logan Square.

The built-in dining room hutch had me at hello...

So did the original hardwood floors and trim...

Well, the kitchen left something to be desired. Check out the awesome heating system we had. My allergies were not happy. And who puts an oven next to the fridge and away from any countertops? Seriously....

Other problems: The porch was broken and we had to sign a waiver saying that we would never allow more than 5 people on it at a time. (Scary) The next door neighbors were obviously selling drugs on the street (Logan Square is a neighborhood that's still in transition from gangland to yuppieville). The landlord won't fix the electricity, and using more than two appliances at once caused a shortage. (Frustrating) It's one of those places that we laugh about now, but it was a disaster at the time. But it was our first place together, and it's where the boy proposed to me.

This is the first time we combined all of our books and made a book room. That's love.

Me and my best friend on my birthday in possibly the hotest apartment ever. I hung red curtains to try and bring some color into the space. This is the first time that 1) my decorating didn't revolve around navy blue (what?!? crazy), and 2) I started to read blogs and realize that I could be doing so much more with my living space. It was the start of something big, people.....

Friday, June 5, 2009

Part 3 - Oh the places Mary has lived...

4) Another college apartment
After I transfered to Illinois State University, I shared an apartment with 3 other girls, and we spent a lot of time decorating and making it look as cute as possible on a college budget. This is also the apartment I lived in when I met a certain handsome college student named Tony who stole my heart talking about politics, Noam Chomsky, and Simpson episodes.

In this picture, you can see a young couple (we'd been dating about 4 months here) standing in my apartment kitchen. Notice that we decorated with our margarita and wine glasses? Aren't we clever and thrifty?

Here was our living room, with the girly white sheer curtains. That's me on the far left with one of my roommates. In this apartment, I realized that there are girls more OCD than I am, and that must have a stack of coffee table books neatly placed on the coffee table at all time WITH NOTHING ELSE ON THE TABLE OR THERE WILL BE BLOOD. Let's just say that we didn't always get along, but I had a lot of fun in that little apartment, especially since for the first time ever, I was known as the messy one. By the way, I have no idea who the other two guys on the couch are...

5) My first single apartment!

After living with girls for three years, I decided that I needed to branch out on my own, and rent my own single apartment. This is was the first time that I felt I had some say in decorating, and I starting cleaning/cooking/decorating for the first time. Of course, that's not to say that I was good at it. On the contrary, as the pictures here will show, I somehow decided that my bathroom, kitchen, and other rooms should have navy blue everything. And that naked women flying with bicycles is art.
Here's me and the boy sitting in my lovely rented furniture - nothing says comfort like decades of other college students living in your couches.

This kitchen was actually quite large! My mom bought me that crock pot while I was in college, and I actually used it to feed myself. I was so grown up...

What is going on with this bathroom? Don't worry, my taste did get better...

I'm back - with a new name!

So, the move came and went (we survived!), and we FINALLY got internet working at our new place (which explains the long stall in postings).

And, you may notice that I've given my little blog a new name: Nerd Love. Newlywed Days seemed too...generic? Boring? Dull? Cliched? But Nerd Love seems to fit us much better. I actually got the term from my brother-in-law, who, during his best man speech, said that our relationship could be summed up in two words: nerd love. Because we're both nerdy academic bookworms, and we happen to be in love. I think the name fits, and it better sums up our lives - let's face it, while I may not be a newlywed forever, I will always be a nerd. And married to one.

So I changed the name, and I hope everyone out there who reads my blog (all 2 of you) are not disappointed.

In short, now that I finally have internet access, I can start posting again and I hope to dedicate far more time to my little project here.