Monday, March 22, 2010

We've moved (the blog, not the house!)

Hello! We've stopped updating this blog for the time being. Whitney will continue to blog about the house, being a homeowner, and Buffalo at her website.

You can, of course, continue to explore our posts about NACA, buying a house, and Buffalo-related housing issues.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Extreme Makeover Park Dedication

Thought I'd share this photoset in light of tonight's Buffalo-based Extreme Makeover Home Edition. Congrats to our neighbor Delores Powell, our fave organization PUSH Buffalo, and the rest of the crew that made it happen.

Y'all rock.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Scenes from our house painting (exterior)

We painted the house this summer, did I mention that? I could swear I wrote a post about it but when I tried to find it, I couldn't.

Anyway, here's a photo of the house in the beginning of the summer:

As you can see, the paint was starting to peel. The sides were in much worse shape, trust me.

Sean and Steve did the majority of the painting and had a little accident we refer to as "the caulking incident." It was the time they caulked the whole front of the house with non-paintable caulk and had to go over the entire thing again with paintable caulk. Yeah, it was awesome.

It's also the reason we ended up painting our house white. Because it was the only color that didn't show the caulking mistake. Because the caulk is clear. Because when we tried to paint over it with green the paint beaded up and ran away. Oops.

Anyway, it turns out we really loved the white. It opens up the whole back yard and we'll add some splashes of color to the door and window trim this Spring. We're also going to get a new fence in the backyard and I will (finally) hang up my window boxes.

Oh, and we're going to paint the cement porch--any color or paint suggestions?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Dreamy interiors

I'm inspired by Andrea Scher's photo challenge at Shutter Sisters:

I am manifesting a home. A dreamy house right here in my neighborhood... I
have a detailed list of all the things our ideal place would have, and gorgeous
light is one of them.

[...] This week's challenge is to show us your dreamy interior, or perhaps
its an image of someone else's you can link to.

Krisatomic did a similiar "inspiration" post a few weeks back and I found it lovely to step into her collection.

I regret that not all of my photos have the appropriate name/credit attached to them, so many were right-clicked and saved as I browsed the web. Nevertheless, enjoy:

"For Jane" originally uploaded by yvestown.

Lovely attic room with a great cottage feel.

Love the open shelves in this kitchen.

Another open shelf and a great half door!

So many Buffalo homes have towers like this...

The mini-gallery looks cool.

Scandanavian flavor + colors + playfulness = charming

Who wouldn't want a cup of tea here?

Another dreamy attic space.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Lunch time rant: Erie County Holding Center

Bad news just keeps rolling in for the folks who run the Erie County Holding Center. Check out this article from the Buffalo News today:

Linda Arthur moves slowly on arthritic knees. She's 60 years old, 5 feet 5 inches tall, and a breast-cancer survivor who reaches for her medicine at noon
each day.

And she's dangerous.

Or at least she was treated as a danger to society for a weekend in December when jailed in the Erie County Holding Center. She was denied her medicine and other basics of civilized life: toilet paper, a toothbrush, soap, water, a blanket, a bed.

It all stemmed from a neglected parking ticket.

The sad thing is that this kind of treatment is a regular occurrence at the Holding Center. Just read the 14-page Justice Department report on the Center's deplorable conditions. My lawyer friends, a few of them acting as public defenders or assigned counsel, frequently share horror stories that match the report's findings: clients beaten in elevators, denied essential medication, and otherwise treated like garbage.

I know that there exists the sentiment that people in the Holding Center are criminals, deserving of whatever ill comes their way when behind bars, and I think it's crap. As the News' story demonstrates so well, people in the Holding Center aren't always mass murderers and child rapists. They are your neighbor, your kid who did something stupid, a family member who didn't pay her parking ticket. Hell, they are your favorite hockey player.

They deserve due process and they deserve humane conditions while being held.

I took a minute to write this while scarfing my lunch down because I wanted to get the word out about a related event happening tonight and every Wednesday in the near future*. If you can, please come out to demand some change and if you can't, at least drive by and give the crowd a good honk:

PRISONERS ARE PEOPLE TOO rally outside EC Holding Center
Every Wednesday during rush hour traffic - 5:00-6:00PM
Outside the Erie County Holding Center (Delaware & Church)
*I know, two posts from me in less than 24 hours? Is it still the same Whitney?

Slideshow! PUSH Houses on the West Side...

I swear that an update is coming soon but for now I wanted to share some photos I took on Monday. They're part of a project I'm doing with PUSH Buffalo.

These homes are all on the West Side: Chenango, Massachusetts, W. Utica, 19th.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

News from the neighborhood...

Cross-posted at Buffalo Locavore.

This weekend was pretty darn exciting over on the West Side. Just a couple short blocks from my house Five Points Bakery opened its doors and sold out of bread within two hours. Sean and I walked over today around noon and were lucky enough to snag a loaf for our late breakfast. It was delish.

Besides the fact that Five Points is owned and operated by a couple living a block away from the bakery, besides the fact that their bread is 100% grain and made from locally-grown wheat stone ground on site, besides the fact that Five Points partners up with the good folks at Promised Land CSA (my CSA!) to purchase their wheat and products--THEY OFFER A BREAD SHARE.

I am so out of control excited about this share.

Five Points is offering a 13-week, $65 bread share. They'll have four shares every year, one per season. The summer share offers a multigrain pan bread, a honey wheat loaf, a cinnamon raisin, and a specialty bread. You select the kind you want and stop by one of the pick-up locations every Thursday to take it home. You can also add muffins, cookies, and their house-made pizzas to your share as well.

As we walked home from the bakery today, Sean and I talked about the summer ahead and how easy it will be for us to eat local. Between our CSA share, our new bread share, and an endless supply of deer meat from Sean's brother (that's for him, I'm a vegetarian), we hardly have to grocery shop.

Now, on to the chickens..

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Holy moly: two years

Two years ago yesterday, Steve and I closed on our house(s). Seems sort of unbelievable but at the same time, not really.

For me the biggest change over the past year is that I've grown into my role as a homeowner. I've become more comfortable with the ins and outs of maintaining a house and with all the drama associated with being a landlord. I've relaxed a bit, to put it simply.

Being a homeowner is no longer the defining part of who I am or what I do, like it was when I was 23 and had just made an investment bigger than I could even imagine. Don't get me wrong, I'm still naive and learning at 25 but I'm happy to say that I'm no longer freaked out by the fact that I have a mortgage.

The first couple years of living in our house and on our block were really about orientating myself: to the West Side, to the way a house works, to what would eventually become our system of managing household finances (ok, still trying to figure that out), even to working full time. It seemed crazy to me that I would ever have the time or energy to start a garden or a block club--two things that I plan on doing in earnest this spring and summer. This next year will be a Year of Getting Out More.

Of course the biggest change of all is the addition of two lovely people named Sara and Sean. They've both embraced the house and neighborhood in fresh and different ways, which has helped me do the same. I'd be lying if I said the household wasn't occasionally challenged the question of what's their/my role in this whole house-owning adventure, particularly because Steve and I, well, bought the houses together. But we're learning how and when to make decisions, and I feel blessed to live with three people as thoughtful and loving as them.

This blog is also over two years old by now. Many thanks to everyone that's read and commented, and (please) keep it coming. I'd love to hear your suggestions on the blog's content, especially if there's something related our house or experience about which you'd like to know more. Let me know in the comments of this post and again, thanks for reading.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Boo/Hiss board + a contest

The Boo/Hiss board is located inside our kitchen and was one of the first things I put up when we moved in. It's really a "Boo/Hiss" and "Thumbs Up" bulletin board but whatever. Here's how it looked a couple weeks ago:

Because I'm a pack rat I like to save scraps of paper that have virtually no value. The Boo/Hiss board disguises my hoarding tendencies as fun, snarky and maybe even worthwhile.

Seen below on the Boo/Hiss side of life, going clockwise: (1) a photo and interview excerpt with Janet Snyder from Kiss 98.5 in which the morning radio show host basically calls Mia Farrow a bitch because she had the gall to bring up genocide in Darfur, (2) Impossibly snide-looking boys in expensive suits on a yacht, being groomed for a life of priviledge and J. Crew trouser socks, (3) An article from the Buffalo News about Amherst residents rejecting a ballot measure that would protect a certain amount of green space from commerical and residential development, (4) Family Planning Advocates button which shouldn't be there because I heart FPA, (5) An article about the legacy of the Vietnam War in Vietnam.

As you can see, I've also included the all-white, all-male "Best News Team on Television" from a CNN ad in the New York Times. Also there's a business card from some weirdo Sean and I met in Puerto Rico. Not really Boo/Hiss material but we don't have a designated "Sketchy" portion of the board. Oh, and there's Janet Snyder again. If you can't read the Q&A that's ok, it's basically all about shopping and finding "the perfect outfit."

And now, some Thumbs Up, clockwise again: (1) Boss's Day card from Sean's secretary, sort of surreal for both of us that he's a boss and that he has a secretary, (2) Invite from a Mike LoCurto Rocky-themed fundraiser, (3) Article on Danny Glover's arrest in Niagara Falls, Ontario, resulting from a protest in support of Unite Here!, (4) Thank you note from CEJ, (5) Letter to Steve from a near-stranger who gave him his DMX and insisted that he pass it along to another young man when he no longer needed it.

The board might be coming down or changing focus soon so I wanted to make sure I honored all the snark and love. Speaking of prostitutes, check out our frozen-in-time Eliot Spitzer caption contest:

Add a new caption in the comments of this post and I will give the author of the best comment a yet-to-be-identified prize. And by "best" I mean that one that makes me laugh the most.

More Boo/Hiss photos and explanations up on Flickr.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Scenes from our front house painting & caulking "party"

Back in December we spent a weekend getting the upper apartment of the front house ready for new tenants. This included painting the walls and trim of several rooms, scrubbing the bathroom until it couldn't be scrubbed no more, and steam-cleaning the carpet. Oh, and re-caulking the tub.

Our previous tenant lived in the house for 13 years and kept it very clean. Still, after all those years the house needed (needs) some major updates, both cosmetic and structural. Our new tenants were on a tight time line so most of the updates in their apartment were, like I wrote above, of the cosmetic persuasion

Our friend & neighbor Kevin helped us paint on Saturday night. Here he is with Steve in the living room.

We decided to go boring landlord white with the painting but are flexible if our tenants want to paint it another color. Besides Steve, Sara, Sean, and me, we were joined by several generous friends and declared it a "painting party." I guess BEER + PIZZA + [any activity] = PARTY.

My father brought over a steam-vac and helped us clean the carpets. They were stained in certain places and generally very dirty. The above photo is of the living room after the carpets were cleaned and the walls and trim painted. Trust me, it looks so much better. Next time I'll do before and after photos.

My primary job was to clean the bathroom and I got really into it. I scrubbed the walls, the tub, the toilet, and the floor. I put a wax on the floor at the end and then admired its shine from the doorway (me to everyone else: "DO NOT WALK IN THE BATHROOM IT IS DRYING"). With Steve's help, I learned how to use a caulking gun and made the following video of my disappointment: