5/31/11

Tuesday Morning Vent

I am just really annoyed with one of our neighbors because he's been parking his car on what is technically our property for the last year and a half! During which time he has moved his vehicle maybe three times a the most. The problem with our side street is that there is no sidewalk or curb, so the area on the outside of our fence is still considered private property but with an easement for pedestrians. The van's owner has taken advantage of the fact that there's no street cleaning on this side of the road thus no ticketing to park his vehicle semi-permanently.

Having the van in that spot blocks our view for on coming traffic when we are backing out our car from the garage. One day a few months ago, Justin saw a neighborhood drunk did a numero uno in the space between the van and our fence, yuck! There's always a ton of trash on the outside of the fence and I usually have no problem picking them up. But you couldn't pay me to get in between the fence and the van to clean up the trash, because I am afraid of what I might find there. 

Anyhoo, I called the city's abandoned vehicle hotline couple of weeks ago. Last week, the guy moved his van to the other side of the road, I was ecstatic, thought that maybe he got a warning from the city to move his van. Justin and I joked about how we should plant a tree in his "parking" spot to keep him away for good. But our excitement was short lived. He moved the van back to the same spot two days later. I had a chance to talk to him when he moved the van back last week, but I chickened out and I have regretted since. So now I am wondering if I should leave a note or call the city again. Or, just go over and knock on his door to talk to him in person.


5/25/11

Paint Colors!

It's really going to happen next week! Justin and I can barely contain our excitement. Our ugly duckling is finally going to turn into a swan (I hope). 

The painter brought over some color samples that we had chosen and put them on the wall. We thought the painting company were going to provide us with three options of color samples of our choice to choose from. Then I found out they only provided two options, any additional colors would be a surcharge of $25 each. Ouch. I told them we can get those samples ourselves which only cost less than $40 total. Anyways, I think we have a winner. 

I always had a vision of our house painted in grey, but I was really drawn to the paint chip of this Buxton Blue from the Benjamin Moore's Heritage collection. Justin and I were both surprised at how much we loved this color. The reddish color I picked as accent color looks off in combination with the blue. So I think we are going with the deeper blue. The dark blue will be used mainly on the doors and maybe the staircase. Please let me know if you think painting the house in the buxton blue is a bad idea. After looking at so many colors, I just can't tell anymore. 


Testing the colors out in another part of the house. 

But now we can't decide which white for the trim we want to go with the buxton blue body. The bright cooler white or the muted warmer white?

I also like the two greys I picked out. But they just don't have as much punch as the buxton blue. The blue is fun and light and has a wow factor. The greys are kind of dull and uninspiring but safe. 

 The darker grey looks almost green in this photo and the lighter warmer grey looks kind of boring. I think Queen Annes look nice with a bit of fun colors. 

There are some brightly painted houses in the neighborhood but I want to avoid having a house that look like these beauties...




New Plants

I took advantage of the nice weather last weekend and planted more things around the yard. I hope they survive in their new homes.

This is a euphorbia cyparissias. I planted it in front of the porch area. 

This is a blue belle hosta. I planted this one next to the gigantic loquat tree in the front corner because it's supposed to do well in a shady area. 

I noticed this Jupiter's beard (aka Red Valerian ) growing wildly next to our garage this spring. I've seen it for sale at plant nurseries. This one was a transplant from the garage to our front yard, next to the Japanese maple. It must have been self sowed by birds or wind, because it just magically appeared this year. It's not looking too happy right now though.
  
I've also been doing a little bit of weeding during my free time. It's hard work and I feel sore from all the pulling and bending over. Yikes, I must be really out of shape. 

I like the little pink flower this wild geranium ground cover produces. But it's looking kind of ragged and I have to get all the weeds growing along side the house all cleared up before the painters start their work next week. Good times! They are pretty easy to pull out, coming out in a big clump, roots and all. 

All my hard work after the first day.

5/23/11

Our Changing Neighborhood

We started looking for a house in the early part of 2009 but I never thought it would take us almost a year to get a house. Apparently we were not the only ones who thought there is a lot of potential and "affordable" housing in this area of Oakland. That's why it took us almost 10 months and numerous offers before we got ourselves a major fixer-upper. It didn't help that our budget was too low for a move in ready house sold by investors. Oh how we hated the investor/flippers who had beaten us out of countless houses. What were we thinking looking for a home in the second hottest zipcode in the country?

Top 10 ZIP codes where homes sold for more than the asking price in the first three months of 2010
Area

ZIP code

Chicago – Loop60603
Emeryville/Oakland94608
Oakland94621
Los Angeles90063
San Jose – East Valley95122
San Pablo94806
L.A. – Compton90222
Lathrop (San Joaquin County)95330
Oakland94606
Oakland94603
Source: ZipRealty
Having been here for almost a year now, we have seen some changes in the neighborhood demographic. There are a lot of renters in this area, but with all the foreclosures, it has allowed people who's been priced out of the real estate market to finally make their home purchases. That means decrepit houses around us are getting fixed up. Families and young professionals are moving into these short sale, foreclosure houses. 

Take for example the house next door. It has sat empty for a long time. The out of state owner inherited it from her aunt who lived in that house her whole life until her passing a few years ago. There was deferred maintenance and it attracted vandals. When it came on the market six months ago I thought it was never going to sell because it needed so much work. I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw the new owner moving in last month and started to slowly fixing it up. 

This house next door is small and lacks any interesting architecture details in my opinion. It's a tough sell, but boy am I glad that someone thinks this house is worth their money, time, and effort. I am interested to see what the new owner does with it. 

Here is a triplex behind our house that came on the market back in January, after several price drops it has gone pending recently. From what I heard, the interior needs a lot of work. I am pretty sure it was built as a Victorian/Queen Anne in 1900, but has lost all its charm after the "renovation" that's been done to turn it into a triplex. I am curious to see what the new owner will do to this house. Are they going to keep it as a rental investment property, in which case they probably won't do much to update it. Or do they have plans to gut it and fix it up then live in one unit and rent out the other like we did. Ah, the possibilities! 


Here's a Redfin.com map showing houses that sold in our neighborhood within the last year. I've been keeping an eye on the real estate market in the area as evident by all the houses bookmarked with hearts. I get notify whenever one of these marked houses get sold or are listed for sale. 

That's a lot of properties that changed hands in the last 12 months and hopefully that means most of these houses will get some much needed face lifts and further improve the feel of our neighborhood. 

5/22/11

One Week Until Painting

We have to get a bunch of little things fixed before the exterior painting starts at the end of this month. Things like replacing the dry rot siding at the porch area and a garage door with a broken panel. I called around for an estimate for a panel replacement and the least expensive one was five hundred bones. We were told that for couple more hundred dollars we can get a brand new steel door, but that just wouldn't look as nice. Another thing with steel door is that they dent easily, I know because we used them for the downstairs units. Getting a brand new wooden garage door would cost over two thousand dollars.

After two weeks of waiting for the replacement panel for our garage door, it was finally installed on Friday. It looks a hundred times better!

This is the before. Thank goodness I only have to look at this ugly color scheme for couple more weeks. 

Not sure what could have caused the door to break in those two places. Perhaps someone back their car into the door.

 Looks like there was also a fire on the the inside at some point. Was this a meth lab or something? We heard from neighbors that knew the previous owner and none of them had good things to say about him.

The broken panel is a lot more noticeable when the door is up. The guy in the picture is the technician who installed the door. He was super nice and got the door done in no time.

The new panels match perfectly with the old. So the door is half way through its makeover. Stay tune for the final reveal in the coming weeks!

5/19/11

Update: My New Plants

Well what did I find on this sunny morning when I looked out the window to check on my plants? A new flower on the poppy plant! Wow, what a beauty! Thanks Annie's Annuals and Perennials. It's a gift that keeps on giving...



I added couple more plants to fill up the pot. 


I got this little guy named "Pink Kaboom" at Annie's Annuals on the Mother's day trip. It's supposed to grow to 2 to 3 feet wide and with hot pink flowers all over. I need to find a place in the yard for it. 

 I know I've already shown this in yesterday's post, but I am just so darn proud of how lovely this one came out. So here it is again.

5/18/11

My New Plants

It's been a while since my last post. Not much has happened around here except the great weather we've been having, well, until last saturday when the weather turned crappy. Justin was supposed to whack the weeds in the yard and I wanted to do some planting around the house. My folks came over on Sunday for a visit and helped transplanted the dwarf orange tree we bought months ago from container to the yard. The tree was looking rather sad with barely any leaves left after much neglect. I hope finally being in the ground will help it return to health.

We went to Annie's Annuals and Perennials in Richmond the day before Mother's day to check out their offerings. They specialize in rare and usual flowers and California native plants. They had planned a whole bunch of festivities for the Mother's day weekend. We couldn't stay very long to enjoy the fun, but I did get a free plant for being a mother! Yay for my first Mother's day! I chose a Poppy of Troy. It had a single flower in bloom but the petals fell off after I brought it home. I was feeling kind of defeated, thought that I had killed it by not repotting it quick enough, but a week later, another one opened up and there's another bud waiting to flower right now. I finally repotted it last weekend but forgot to take a photo of the beautiful flower. I hope to collect the seeds so I can plant it in my garden next spring.

This is a photo from Annie's site. Isn't it pretty?


Here is my Poppy of Troy in it's new pot.


I bought another couple of succulents from Orchard Supply Hardware to add to my growing collection. I don't know their names, just like their shapes and color. I also bought some potting soil and a big pot to put my collection of little succulents in. I wasn't sure whether I should plant them far apart or put them close together. I decided to give them some room to grow and maybe add on more later.

I am afraid that I am slowing turning into a succulent hoarder. 

I thought for sure this little mint plant was a goner, but it came back to life. Mint is practically indestructible. 

I just repotted the Trader Joe's basil plant shown on the left in this photo. Hope it doesn't become another victim of my black thumb.

My first attempt at making a potted succulent garden. It's looking a little barren at the moment.

I bought a couple of new plants (the two in the front) from the CVS pharmacy aka "Big Longs". These plants weren't labeled very well, so I don't know their names. (I don't know the names of most of the succulents I have. I just know that they all have very complicated sounding Latin names.) Then I repotted them in new pots to use as indoor plants. I love the way they look together. I think I know what everyone is getting for Christmas this year. 


5/2/11

Yard and Garden

Maybe it's the weather, but I've been obsessed with how and what I want to do to our yard.
I learned about Xeriscaping today. It is landscaping and gardening in ways that reduce or eliminate the need for supplemental water from irrigation.

I have been itching to plant some hydrangeas and hosta plants in the yard. But they will have to wait until our landscape project for next spring. We simply don't have the resources and time to take on another big project right now.

I will share some of my inspirations in the mean time. I want to rip up all the concrete walk way around the house because it's broken up and slanted in several places and too narrow to push a stroller through. I think the red brick pavers look lovely and contrast well with the greenery. As with all our other projects, budget is always tight, so I will have to figure out which is the cheapest when it comes to bricks, stone pavers or stamped concrete.


Curvy brick road adds fluidity and interest to the space. 

I like the circularly placed pavers with grown cover growing in between them. 

Not a single inch is wasted in this lush, small patio garden. 

The colors and textures create a striking yet balanced outdoor space with careful layering of tall and low growing plants. 

I've talked about these woolly pockets before. They look awesome filled with succulents!

Lovely colorful garden adds so much curb appeal. 

I am kind of obsessed with hostas right now. That's the leafy low growing plant with the variegated leaves in the lower left of the photo. 

I am definitely going to have some raised vegetable beds in my garden.


Out Door Living

Last Sunday we had our first of many barbecues of this year! We made a quick trip to Ikea on Sunday morning to beat the crowd and bought couple of chairs and a table and an umbrella for the deck. We had gone to a plant sale the day before where I bought four cute little succulents. They are now residing out on the deck along with a pot of succulents from Home Depot and a mint plant I pulled out from the sidewalk and a basil plant from Trader Joe's. I am so happy to see a little patio garden emerging. And the new umbrella is finally providing some much needed shade on the south facing deck that gets unbelievably bright and hot during the day. Now that we have the umbrella set up, I think we could've gone with a large size to provide more shade. Oh well, Mission accomplished!


Justin testing out the seating arrangement.

My little deck garden. 

The grill master hard at work.

Al fresco dining. 
(I can't wait until our new next door neighbor fixes up the house, seen in the background of this photo.) 

Grilled artichokes, some meat and veggie dogs, couple of meatless patties for me and a simple salad with lime juice and olive oil dressing. There is something about eating outdoors that makes everything taste better!