Tag Archives: Ormewood Park

We’re living like it’s Downton Abbey

4 Mar

This is multi-family household living at its best, just without Nanny. Or Carson & Mrs. Hughes.

Here’s what happened: my husband bought an expensive house during the real estate bubble of ’07/’08, right before he graduated college in 2009, during the recession. A + B = C, and C hasn’t been good for us financially.

College had delayed his transition from the Marine Corps to his career in his late twenties. I graduated college at the same time as him (but mid twenties) with my second degree, didn’t find a full-time job, didn’t get in to graduate school, and then became a stay-at-home-mama, which was my dream anyway. Meanwhile, my husband worked hard to pay the mortgage, while we watched many others get rewarded by buying foreclosed or cheap houses because of the recession and at one point getting huge checks from the government for being first-time homeowners. We have been the definition of “house poor” for the last 7 years, even though we lead really, really good lives. No denying that fact.

So in order to sell our house, we have moved in with my in-laws near Chastain Park. Oh how terrible! No, not really. It’s pretty awesome.

At our house, the floor needed a good sand and refinish. Our realtor recommended it. Our cousin, who’s the best real estate agent in Birmingham, said to do it before it goes on market. It’s not the most expensive reno job, it must be done by a professional, and it can totally change the look of the house.

I’ve been wanting to change the color for years anyway.

So I finally spent the last of our savings, touched up the paint (again), cleaned it up real nice, positioned the furniture just right… and now we pray we get some money back from the money pit that has been home ownership for us so far.

We moved in with parents so we can stage the house — and not live in the poly smell immediately post-floor refinish. I won’t have to battle the dog hair, kitty litter box, Walter messes, and my type-A cleaning personality all while keeping a house show-ready. We can also take our time to find the right house for us when it comes time to do that.

I have never been more excited to go shopping in my life. I’ve never had the opportunity to pick a house before. My husband bought our current one a year before we met.

So we’re in our thirties acting a bit like we’re in our twenties… but hey, we’re Millennials, so we’re allowed to do that, right?

IMG_20160224_192426Perks: Pop reading bedtime stories to his grandboy in what used to be The Serious Business Room for twenty years but has recently been changed by Walt to The Crossword Room (note WSJ crossword on end table).

Ladies Night Out 2-2016Perks: Ladies Night Out with the Sistas of the Pour at Terra Terroir

 

Advertisements

Today is the Day

3 Mar

A couple weeks ago I spent a very, very cold day moving most of our house into my dad’s bonus room. Well, three very nice gentlemen Stevie, Scott, and TJ did all the heavy lifting. I had a cold too (probably from Stress), and I was totally deceived by Weather.com’s prediction of 50’s weather. It was 30’s out there, with wind, and I was foolishly dressed. But at least the freezing rain held off til everything was moved! I’m pretty sure it was 70° and sunny the next day. Thanks, universe.

It was one of the final steps getting our house on the market for the third time in two years. And this time, we’re not kidding. We’ve worked tirelessly since last summer (intending to stay): fixed up the house, painted, stained, moved, decorated, etc etc etc until now it is stunning. And we finally came to the non-changing conclusion that we have to get out of our mortgage, for better or worse. Even though we will miss our sweet home and the neighborhood immensely.

Eight years of home ownership and two years in the making, we present to you our very beloved in-town home in the amazing East Atlanta neighborhood of Ormewood Park (going live around 5pm today). Click on the photo link to see more:

2431039-830w553h

 

Ladies Book Club

8 Dec

It’s been fairly transformative to be a part of this neighborhood, women-only, book club since this summer.

The last book we read was My Life in France by Julia Child — though written by her great-grandnephew. Who is a fantastic writer. He made me fall in love with Julia. WWJD: my new motto.

IMG_20151114_123256

Julia married “late” in life, but to a fantastic man who whisked her off to Paris where she learned to love food and become an expert cook and then an international bestseller and beloved TV star.

julia_child_le_cordon_bleu

IMG_20151114_123119

IMG_20151114_123041

Paul Child: photographer, wine lover, graphic designer,  and lover of the world.

Julia and Paul Child

And a new dear friend Hannah, among others, brought her to us, and then threw us a dinner party with all Julia recipes — it was all Julia, all night! A beautiful night in a beautiful home with beautiful people.

IMG_20151111_214119347

And our goody bag was a fondue package which I shared with Dave and friends at a game night later in the week.

IMG_20151114_204244826

Sharing just makes everything better.

We have a three year old!

23 Aug

IMG_20150819_091806740_HDR
I can’t believe he’s three already. I’m still waiting for it to become real that he actually grew inside of me – as a result of two data points meeting in the right environment, – came out, and now walks and talks.

11893995_10153524611138879_2575980280457281569_o(1)
I never had a birthday at school before, being a summer baby. Walter gets the best of both worlds: summer birthday and a special day at school! So his Nini made yellow cupcakes for him to share with his friends. Of course, he didn’t want one. He just wanted to go home once he saw Nini show up at school!

IMG_20150819_131231427
Well, at least we sent the rest of the kids home with a sugar rush.

IMG_20150822_223907
Then this weekend we threw a water party!

IMG_20150822_114823722
There is nothing better than seeing him have a really good time. He told me when it was over, “But I just want the party to stay!”

IMG_20150822_224703
Warms my heart to see this. I love all of Walt’s little friends and their curiosity and joy for life.

IMG_20150822_225402
While we were cleaning up our party, our new neighbors, who are apparently very well-known in the Ormewood Park community, invited us to a housewarming party they were throwing later in the day. We decided to stop by after nap time to introduce ourselves. Well, it was a true back yard affair! I got the green monster in my eyes a little bit after seeing their yard. Two decks, an amazing view, and enough green space to have the biggest water slide I’ve seen outside a water park. Walter convinced his daddy to take him up there two times. I’m glad I didn’t have to fight the crowd to go with him cause we saw one kid making his way back up the hill with a bloody nose! We ended up staying longer than we had anticipated (surprise surprise) because we found several friends there, including two of Walt’s preschool teachers from last year. I love when the world is small like that.

IMG_20150822_225441
We had such a good time celebrating this kid!

Urban Farm Ormewood strikes again

16 May

Another beautiful day in the neighborhood!

Atlanta had about one week of spring before we jumped in to summer temperatures. OK OK, summer will be at least 10-15° hotter, but it certainly feels like it shouldn’t get any hotter. But today was perfect: warm in the shade with a bit of a breeze.

I took some friends to The Farm, and it turned out that my in-laws joined us for a spell as well. I so love this place. It is an urban oasis. We lounged on picnic blankets and drank sparkling cider with frozen berries, which Walter loved.

IMG_20150514_142001336

Draining the bottle. Oh dear.

IMG_20150514_142048498~2
He’s figured out how to pose for pictures and I love it!

Finley's sunglasses
We spent a lot of time brushing ants and other small insects off this sweet girl.

IMG_20150514_150332506
These two are really becoming best friends!!!

IMG_20150514_225323388
And because it was our 4th anniversary, Dave was busy doing sweet surprises for me while he was at work, like having these gorgeous — purple! — flowers delivered! A wonderful day, all in all!

The House

10 Apr

It’s like an episode of Love It or List It, and for now, we’ve decided to love it.

We took our house off the market and plan on doing some upgrades, mostly cosmetic like light fixtures and paint, some necessaries like a new roof, and then a really fun idea: possibly finishing out the gigantic attic.

The good houses in our neighborhood sell like hotcakes (for instance a house in our price range got multiple offers in 24 hours a couple weeks ago). For the life of me I will never understand why our house didn’t sell during the 7 months we had it listed in the last year, but that’s OK. We’re going to make it work to stay here and enjoy it and our neighborhood.

I already walk around with a new sense of joy in my surroundings.

Now, back to work so we can afford our mortgage.

The Truth

9 Apr

This is what it is like living in Southeast Atlanta in the year 2015:

I am a 30 year old female who is married, white, and has a young child. My family and I are in constant fear of crime. Well, not Walter, since he is 2 and fears nothing.

Dave and I don’t like sleeping on the main floor where the “master” bedroom is, and walking the dog at night always brings a little bit of what was that? and is he good or bad? when you see someone else on the street. I usually don’t fear women, only men, of all varieties. Especially the scrawny, drug-addict looking ones.

Our next door neighbor got robbed at gunpoint in her driveway at 9:15pm on Halloween (thank god we have a garage. I don’t always shut the door right away but I know where I can quickly grab a machete). The usual small stuff happens like mailbox and front porch thieves, car break-ins, the occasional home or business break in, and the weekly gunfire from Trestletree section 8 housing.

I love our neighborhood, but I am tired of living in “the ghetto” where there are more pawn shops and tattoo parlors than Home Goods and Whole Foods. I’ve recently decided, however, that I want to commit to this neighborhood, my neighborhood, where every day I meet more people that I like, and I know enough people that I frequently run in to friends at the grocery store. I want to connect with everyone.

I want to put South Woodland Hills on the map, at least for an Atlanta neighborhood. I want to start a newspaper. I want to volunteer at schools and churches in our district. I want to farm on some land nearby and ride bikes around town and show my son that an urban neighborhood, while filled with more people, does not have to mean more crime.

Any in-town neighborhood is going to have crime, but we have to stop this. We have to make people want to stop being violent and scary and unjust. I am tired of seeing all the green space being developed into low-income apartments (is there no sacred space left these days?). The ghettos and the slums need to go. Not the people in them, however.

We need to focus not on building up other countries but seeing the people in our own country prosper. We need to show everyone that we have respect for them by not subjecting them to poor housing, lack of education, and the burden of being given too much. We need education of all trades, not just your typical college, and universal childcare. The way we treat our children is the key to our future.

Soon enough they will become us. And we will become the old people.

IMG_20150301_185309754
Saw this on a friend’s fridge and loved it.

The Vote

8 Apr

I recently left my church as an official member. I needed a break from them specifically, but I have also decided that I do not want to be a member of any church. Possibly ever again.

It is hard to be frank about the subject without being offensive, I think, or at least on the verge of hurting someone’s feelings. Religion is a very touchy subject to most people, and with good reason. It talks about the very depth of our souls. The whole scale, from atheism to fundamentalism, relates to the core of humanity.

Are we good people doing bad things?
Or bad people doing good things?

It is the yin and yang of this life, a life lived on a swirling ball of fire and water and really, really good luck — for us. So far, at least.

When I told the pastors I was going to pull myself off the membership roster, and that I was quitting my deacon duties (really, what more could I have done anyway, and they picked really good people this year to be on the board), they told me that the session would have to vote on my release. It was very Giver-esque. Maybe they didn’t use those words, exactly, but they did both mention my “discernment process”.

The past four years have been some of the most moving and instrumental in my life. I am so much happier and evolved than I was at 26. Unmarried. Childless. That was a long time ago.

I said from the very beginning that I loved Morningside Presbyterian Church. I asked people to come with me all the time and sang its glowing praises. It is a beautiful, simple building. It is filled with wonderful people. I love the congregation. The music is uplifting. And the message, one of extreme welcome (Come one, come all!) is great. I liked the scholarly pursuit of the Bible that was spoken about on Sundays. And that at other times we would have fun together in simple fellowship (and usually with a glass of wine!).

When Dave and I joined Morningside, it was still pretty small. There were the older people, the married gays, the older young adults that had already formed their own clique, and established families that had come in through the preschool. We didn’t really fit in anywhere, but we liked it. Everyone was smart and nice and welcoming. We probably became closest to Leslie and Lloyd at that time, and Jack and Jill, both remarkable couples. A new pastor had just started at the church, and we joined during his first New Member Class. We ushered sometimes, attended church every Sunday, and helped Jack organize baseball games.

Then I was the social activities coordinator, Clifton Ministries shepherd, wedding helper, deacon, deacon moderator, part-time photographer, commitment committee volunteer, season of service committee volunteer, communications committee volunteer… All things I like, all things I wanted to do. But when the need is that great for your time, it becomes work. And the problem is, there is great need there. And I want to help, I really do. But personally (I know others feel differently about volunteering their time), I cannot afford, any more, to give my time away like that. Because to be brutally honest, at times, by some people, I felt un-thanked, excluded, and treated with hostility.

The funny thing is, I believe more than ever in God. Or “God,” if that sounds better. It happened while watching Naked and Afraid with Dave one night. I thought to myself, “How on earth could we have gotten where we are today without someone or something helping us???”

I plan on visiting the churches in my neighborhood. I strongly believe that churches should be the foundation of community ministry. Their main purpose should be to help those in need (which can vary from mental health to finding a good repair guy for your house to homelessness). And everyone who lives in the neighborhood should have to pay a subscription for these purposes. And possibly attend meetings so that we are aware of what is going on in our immediate worlds. We are so focused on our smart phones these days that sometimes it is hard to even meet our neighbors. If my husband wasn’t already booked Thursday night then I would go to our town meeting in Grant Park. I’ve been watching Gilmore Girls recently, and their town meetings always look like fun.

There is a lot going on with me right now, but I’m excited about all of it.

The Farm

8 Mar

Life is full of wonders. I have lived here for four or five years now and I never knew there was a farm smack dab in the middle of our neighborhood. A hero, Farmer Red, saved five acres of land in the heart of Ormewood Park, and he calls it UFO — Urban Farm Ormewood. It is my new favorite place, probably because it is a mile and a half walk away.

IMG_20150307_132219

Today was a glorious day outside, and our friends who found out about the farm took us there as a fun outing. Perfect weather. A little bit chilly so it made it great to run around. Walter is never bothered by the cold anyway, and baby Canon didn’t seem to care either. The sunshine was brilliant, and the calm open space a joy.

IMG_20150307_123132344_HDR

Beautiful even in the winter. And there’s a tree swing!

IMG_20150307_133847

Never a better day was had.

What I think of the Real Estate Market in East Atlanta

31 Jan

As my dad so elegantly puts it,

“Don’t tell me what ‘the market’ says. I tell you what the price is.”

And also

“Buying a house is easy. Selling a house is hard.”

And boy have I learned a lot about that in the last year. I thought moving would be easy, but it’s a racket if you aren’t rich or live in a posh neighborhood. And somehow we live right on the fringe of a posh neighborhood.

Our house is one of the most expensive on the block, because it is really nice, but so many of the houses immediately around us were foreclosed on and flipped right after Dave bought his house. Because David paid “full price” it is much harder to sell for as cheaply as the the competition, even though he’s the one who worked hard during the recession to not cut and run (or get forced out by the banks). He didn’t buy the house 20-30 years ago when the neighborhood was dirt cheap. We’ve been here seven years, and the money and sweat equity we put in to this house doesn’t seem to matter too much, at least yet. We’ve gotten lots of activity but no offers; however, it’s only been about six weeks and a lot of that time was over Christmas and New Years.

I believe that the way realtors get paid is detrimental to everyone who isn’t really rich or about to make a ton of money on a great purchase.

My husband and I don’t dislike our house by any means; this house is beautiful, and we enjoy keeping it up. But with our lifestyle it makes sense to move out to Marietta with the schools (and room to home-school) and land and sprawling split levels. I love in-town living, but I’m ready to move back out to the suburbs. I grew up there. David grew up in Ansley Park, moved to Chattanooga for boarding school, was a Marine in N.C., and then lived at our house. Longest place he’s ever lived. But now he’s terribly excited to move out of the Perimeter. I think one day I could even see myself living in a very rural location, but for now (and maybe forever), East Valley. It is an incredible house that I would love to live in.

I hope this transition is smooth. Current house needs new roof, floors refinished, a new light fixture for the foyer, a fence, and the master bath tile re-glazed and cabinets painted. A cool gray exterior would really make the decks pop! New house needs new flooring in lower levels, new back doors, insulation, garage spring safety cables, railing, shelving, light fixtures, fans, kitchen faucet, bathtubs, re-wallpapering the guest bath to truly bring out the tacky tile, all new appliances… the only part that is perfect is the outside, which is what I am dreaming of! And the extra space of course for my growing family. I think I see a baby kitten in our future… Petra better get ready!

 IMAG0554
Our stager wanted me to artfully place plants around the house. Petra, however, eats them.