Announcing: Between The Lines

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Do you like to read?  Are you itching to talk about the books you have read in the past?  Well, this is right up your alley!  I am teaming up with Anne from Love the Here and Now to bring you a bloggers book club!

Between The Lines Book Club

How does it work?

It’s easy.  We will let you know what book you need to read for the month and you read the book.  Then we will post easy discussion questions that you can answer and post.  We will host a linkup on both of our blogs so that we can all share our thoughts from the book we just read.  We already have 4 books chosen and I am so excited about all of them.

When does the linkup happen?

We will be hosting the linkup on the 3rd Tuesday of every month.  So, for you that aren’t good at math – I’m terrible at it – that is January 20th, 2015.

Do I have to be a blogger to participate?

No!  Anyone can read these books and work through the discussion questions.  If you are a non-blogger, you can always comment on either of our blogs to discuss things about the book that you loved/hated/had questions about.

When will you announce each new book?

We already have 4 lined up, but we will be announcing each book when we post the linkup.  You will basically have a month to complete reading the book.  We will be posting the discussion questions a month ahead of time, so don’t worry about missing those.  If you can’t finish the book in time, no problem!  This is for fun, not for class or anything like that!

Here is the button you can use on your blog!

Chits and Giggles

If you have any other questions, please leave it in the comments and we will get back to you!

Alright, the book for January is going to be a doosy.  I have not read this book, but if it is anything like Gone Girl, I know it’s going to be amazing and crazy.  So here we go:

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Here are our discussion questions for this book:

1.  Libby became famous as a victim—how do you think this strange fame effected her? 
 
2.  What do you think of Patty Day as a mother? Is she doing the best she can, or is she making excuses for herself? 
 
3.  Why do you think the author chose to set the murders on a farm? What images and themes does the heartland and farming evoke?
 
4.  What do you believe in Diondra’s motivation throughout the story?  Does her relationship with Ben change him?

Remember to come and link up with us on January 20th!

10 Ways Kids and Animals Are The Same

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Do you ever sit and home and watch your animal go crazy?  Do you have a kiddo that you think the same thing?  One minute they are asleep in their beds, and then all of a sudden – boom.  They just go ballistic.  I don’t get it either, but I can tell you that an animal and a kid are pretty much the same thing.  How?  Well, read below!  Today, I have Tabitha from A Hundred Tiny Wishes with me to present to you how kids and animals are the same.
10 Ways Kids and Animals are the same
I don’t have kiddos, but an animal is pretty close to a kid.  How is that possible?
one | They have to be fed on their time.  Our cat comes and wakes us up, especially if we are trying to sleep in, when he is hungry.  I don’t know if he gets it in his head that he always gets food at a certain time, but sometimes it’s like 6:30am and he’s waking us up.
two | They beg and beg for treats.  Any time we are both in the kitchen, the cat will run up and start meowing.  He could have been dead asleep 5 seconds earlier, but somehow he just knows that we are both in the kitchen at the same time and that apparently demands a treat.  Or wet food.  I mean, seriously.  Kids also seem to beg for treats and food as well, from what I have heard.
three | Both find the weirdest places to nap.  We recently bought the cat a bed, but before that, he would nap anywhere.  His favorites recently have been on pillows, in a pile of clean clothes, or the laundry basket.  Kids can sleep anywhere.  Even in an uncomfortable position in the car.  It’s amazing how they can be sound asleep when it just looks so painful!
four | Cats and kids love to play – especially with shiny objects.  This is especially true right now, but it’s so true.  Our cat loves – and I mean loves – the laser pointer.  He goes crazy over it.  He also is obsessed with the Christmas tree and the ornaments.  Kids seem to have the same facination with things that light up.  Including the tree and the ornaments.
five | They both will steal your hearts.  My dad hated the cat that I had in college.  There were some circumstances that made me bring that cat home and he had to live with him.  It took a little while, but Bailey became my dads cat.  He loved him so much and it was just so precious to see.  The cat would just always jump in his lap and be so cute.  He finally made my dad a cat lover.

Being a mom to one and a pet owner to two, I am always noticing similarities between the human child and furry ones…

one | They ALWAYS need attention. There is no getting away from it… both are a long-term commitment. They need to be fed, cleaned, cuddled, petted, etc. Basically both will always need your attention- 24/7… well 24/1, because they need to sleep for at least 6 hours, right?

 

two | Both need to be potty trained. Sure, cats have an intuition that they need to use a litter box, but both dogs and children take time to potty train (dogs tend to catch on easier). If all fails… they do make adult diapers for both dogs and humans :)
three | There is no getting away from it… money will be spent on toys. Lots of toys. Going along with the “attention thing” toys seem to consume both children and dog/cats for a period of time, giving you a piece of your sanity back.  And during that time you are usually able to get five minutes of peace to go pee :)
four | Cuddles are the best. Whether it be from a cat, a dog, or even a tiny miniature sized version of yourself, cuddles from them are the best. And they always seem to come at just the right moment.
five | Both hold a very special place in your heart. No matter what you are going through or what you are feeling, looking at a dog/cat or child makes it all worth it. You learn that you would give your all to make them happy, to save them in their time of need, and so much more. They make your life complete.

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House Tour Christmas Style

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Christmas is, by far, my favorite season.  I love the way the tree smells, I love the stockings hanging above the chimney.  And I love decorating our house.  And since the last time I did a house tour was back in 2012, it’s time for another house tour – Christmas style.  This was our first year buying a real tree in the 3 years we have lived together.  And let me tell you, I don’t think we will ever go back.  There is something so magical about a real tree – the smells mainly – that I just can’t let go of.

Christmas 2014 tree

Christmas 2014 stocking

I also upgraded my stocking this year.  This beauty is from Anthropologie.  You might be wondering why there aren’t 2.  Well, there are, but I’m waiting on Jeremy to upgrade his (he doesn’t want the Anthropologie one), so we should be going out this week to buy him a new one.  Along with the cat.  He needs a new stocking too.

Christmas 2014 red bird ornament

I am in love with this bird.  I think I got this from an ornament exchange, but I can’t remember.  If I could,  I would have gotten more of them because they are gorgeous.  On a fun note, see how many lights we have.  Yea, this tree has 900 lights on it!

Christmas 2014 tree 3

I took this on my phone and it sort of started to wig out on me, but I do love this picture.  It’s a full shot of the tree, but all blurry-like.

Christmas 2014 tree 2

A view of our tree.  It’s pretty much all reds and golds – everything in our house for the holidays is going red and gold.

Christmas 2014 star

So, back like 5 years ago, I bought ornaments from Garden Ridge in one of those tube container things.  I didn’t have a lot of money to spend on ornaments.  And they lasted a long time (we still have them all – more on them later).  So the past 2 years, I have slowly worked on upgrading our ornaments (see a trend here?), so this ornament was one of my upgrades this year.  I love how big it is, but I also love that it’s more of a star than a ball.  And it’s just so pretty!

Christmas 2014 lanterns

Oh hello there, wedding lanterns!  Yes, we still have these around the house.  We kept 5 of them and they are all different sizes.  There are 2 on the table that have ornaments (the old ones from Garden Ridge) in them, and another lantern is on the bookshelf by the window filled with these ornaments.  I would have filled more, but we ran out of them.  Oops.

Christmas 2014 joy

Besides my Pinterest Fail, I did another Pinterest inspired DIY project.  And this one turned out so much better – in my opinion!  We have this hanging next to our mirror above the fireplace.

Christmas 2014 reindeer 2

One of my favorite new additions this year is the freaking adorable reindeer.  I mean, seriously.  He stands up on his own!  How can you not love him?

What does your house look like during Christmas?

The Myths of Homeownership

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You guys are in for a treat!  I have Christine from The So-Called Homemaker to help me with this post.  We are talking about the myths of homeownership.  You see, Christine is a real estate agent, so she will be discussing myths from the Realtor side.  I will be talking about myths on the buyers side.  And I am so excited to have her with me!

The Myths of Homeownership

First up is Christine’s Realtor myths of homeownership:

  1. It’s cheaper to rent.  While this isn’t always true, typically in today’s market you can purchase a home for cheaper than you pay to rent it.  Think about it: the owner isn’t going to charge you less than their mortgage, which is probably very similar to the mortgage that you would have on it, so it follows that rent would be higher.  Even in the cases where you do pay a little more for the same house (or a similar house), you are building equity which you will never get from a rental.
  2. I don’t need an agent./I don’t want to pay for an agent.  I am probably a little biased, being an agent myself, but this is entirely untrue!  Having an agent is so important as a buyer because they help protect you in the home-buying process.  They are trained to recognize unfair or even dangerous situations, and can save you thousands of dollars and a ton of misery in bad contracts!  The buyer’s agent is most often paid by the seller, too, so there really is no down side to working with an agent when you buy a home.
  3. I can’t afford a down payment and closing costs, so I can’t afford a house.  So not true!  There are so many different types of loans that pretty much everybody can afford a home these days!  An FHA loan, the most common these days, only requires a 3.5% down payment, and there are even loans that require no down payment at all (i.e. USDA or VA).  As to closing costs, it is actually pretty standard for a seller to pay closing costs, so they’re generally not even a factor!
  4. Real estate agent = Realtor.  It’s like an SAT question.  All REALTORS® are real estate agents, but not all real estate agents areREALTORS®.  A realtor is an agent who pays dues to their local board of Realtors, meaning that they are then a member of the National Board of Realtors.  It is always a good idea to choose a REALTOR® versus a real estate agent because they have access to better information and are generally more well-trained and knowledgeable than a regular agent.  While not always the case, being a part of the board generally implies more of a commitment to the client.
  5. I should buy a house at the top of my monthly payment price range.  Please, please, please do not do this.  It might be tempting to get the most beautiful and huge house that you can afford to make monthly payments on, but it is never a good idea.  You never want your house to be more than half of your gross monthly income, and in most cases if you can get it lower than that, it’s even better!  Buy a house that isn’t exactly perfect but that you know you can make perfect down the road.  Otherwise you could be setting yourself up for financial ruin.

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Now it’s my turn from the buyers side:

  1. Buying a foreclosure = a money pit.  Buying a foreclosed property can be so much cheaper and it could get you into the neighborhood you want.  If you do your homework, you could get an amazing steal on a property and it doesn’t have to mean a money pit.  For instance, I bought our 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom condo in West Midtown in 2010.  My condo was a foreclosure and went to auction.  Then, it got purchased (at a very discounted rate) and a company flipped it.  Then I purchased it (still, for a great value).  It might have been completed to our exact specifications, but you really can’t say no to a deal like we got.
  2. I have to put 20% down for a house.  Christine touched on this, but I think it’s important.  And while I did put 20% down on the condo, you don’t have to.  There are a ton of other financing options you can choose, like an FHA loan.  That’s only 3.5%, but if you choose to do this, remember that you will have to pay PMI insurance until you reach the 20% equity in your house.  Since we put 20% down, we don’t have to pay PMI insurance.
  3. A condo/townhome doesn’t mean you can’t afford a house.  I don’t know why, but there is a stigma over townhomes/condos.  For some reason they just come off as not being as nice as a single family home.  I can tell you that I love our condo.  Yes, we will be moving into a single family home eventually, but I love the location we are in and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  In our area, there are so many condo complexes (we are near the GA Tech campus), so I don’t feel like we are missing anything.  We probably couldn’t afford a house in our area, so why not a condo?  If you love the location, consider a condo/townhome.
  4. Buying a house means I will be broke.  When you buy a house, there could be a few months that are tight.  You are adjusting to a mortgage payment and your utilities will be higher than they were in your apartment.  More than likely, there will be some tight months.  But, don’t let that scare you away.  You will be building equity in your house, and guess what?  There is a thing called escrow that your mortgage company takes out (it’s part of your payment each month) and if they over-estimate, you get a big fat check each year.  As long as you don’t buy at the top end of your budget (and you should NEVER do that), you will be just fine!