Sunday, August 21, 2016

Adventures in Refinancing

It all started a few weeks ago when our mortgage broker reached out to us and asked, "Have you guys given any more thought to refinancing? Numbers are really great right now."

Always open, we said, "Sure, what would it look like for us?"

When we got the numbers back, we were shocked. By refinancing (rolling our costs into the loan, nothing out of pocket), we could reduce from a 30 year term to a 20 year term for $40 more than our current monthly payment. Not bad!

However, we were already automatically paying an extra $50 a month towards our principal, which meant this new payment was actually ten dollars less than our current mortgage payment plus additional payment. How could we say no?

When it comes to refinancing, it all falls on the appraisal. Having only been in our house two years and three months, we were nervous about what the numbers would be. We had done so much, but would it show?

That meant crunch time to touch up the house, which meant a few big projects, including wrapping up painting the exterior of our house.

You may remember, we've been painting since we owned the home. Two years later, we were in somewhat of the final stretch. With our guest bath remodel, we had one exterior side only halfway painted after replacing the window and some of the shingles. Our front had only been partially painted because of a gnarly vine.

So, with a few days until the appraisal to spare, we got it done.

Lots of scraping, especially around windows where paint had bubbled at some point. Luckily, all of the wood underneath was normal.

For days straight I painted scuffed up baseboards, window frames, mullions, and touched up other spots.

Not to mention, we finished the exterior (less two sides that barely get seen). We went from dull and drab (top) to a much nicer finish (bottom).

I still feel like I'm getting back to normal after a weekend and nights spent working to get everything done. But, it was all worth it. We got our appraisal report back last Friday afternoon and we have added $45,000 in value to our house above what we paid for it. To that end, our house value was raised $35,000 above what the value was two years ago.

How much did we spend to get that value? We estimate a ton of sweat equity and about $10,000 in materials/projects. 

Here's a good house progress post from a year and a half ago - I need to do another one with our house now!

Now, having that report back, our bank said we no longer had to pay PMI, because we had raised the value of our house so much and our new loan was less than 80% of our home's value. Yes! That meant knocking another $30 off of our new estimated loan payment. If you're keeping track, that means our new monthly payment is only $10 more than our old monthly payment or rather, $40 less than what we were paying with our additional principal payment. Essentially, we'll be saving $40 a month. Woo!

I decided to do this post to help others and shed some light on the process. It's been very interesting for us as first time homebuyers to have all of these options. Here's to closing on our new loan this Friday!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Adventures, Part II

Where has the summer gone? It was so weird to look up and it was suddenly August. Our new students move in on Friday, so it has really been hitting me the past few weeks!

We've had a few more adventures since my last post!

First, I hosted book club at my house! These are some of my sweet Fondren friends and we try to get together every six weeks with a new book. It shifts houses each time. We read a book that I picked that I do not recommend. However, we are reading Outskirts of Hope this time and I'm excited to start it.

I also heard from my friend Erin about a tiny house roadshow in Birmingham on a Friday afternoon and by that night we had a hotel booked and we were on our way Saturday morning after breakfast with our friends!

Paul was in heaven (in the top of a loft).

There were at least 15 tiny homes to look in. It was a test in patience with so many people and long lines, but we had so much fun.

Did I mention Paul loved it?

Of course, we had to make a Trader Joe's run while we were in town. We actually made two trips so we could pack an ice chest with frozen items right before we headed home.

A few of the items we're loving from them:

Also, their fantastic chicken teriyaki and orange chicken frozen items!

Next post, a big project we just finished, touching up and finishing up our house for house appraisal to refinance. We got great news about our results Friday afternoon. PSA: Consider looking at rates and numbers if you haven't in a while. We are shaving 10 years off our mortgage and only paying $10 more a month than our old monthly payment.

Sunday, July 17, 2016


I am my mother's child, so I'm always up for an adventure. Growing up, my mom always made sure we had fun trips, even if it meant checking out a new restaurant that had just opened. We'd set out and call it an "adventure." These were especially big in the summer when she had to figure out what to do with three girls for days on end. I remember one summer we had an adventure to check out the new Bass Pro Shop because that seemed so foreign and so far away from our tastes. Of course, we gawked at all the camo and tanks full of fish. Then, we ate lunch in the attached restaurant because, why not?

Now as an adult, I really appreciate adventures. It all started with us reminiscing and telling stories one night this week. Paul always remembers his time at community college at Copiah-Lincoln CC (Co-Lin) fondly. I told him we needed to go down there and see if anything was as he remembered.

Mapping it out, I realized a few other points we had wanted to see were close together, so I proposed a Saturday road trip. Paul, always up for an adventure himself, was up for it.

First, breakfast with our friends and their sweet babies. As I like to see it, Sneaky Beans crew, class of 2033.

First up, Co-Lin! When Paul was in school, this was a street where cars could park on each side. This center area looked pretty new and all the buildings looked to be in great shape. Paul was very impressed!

I always hear a lot about Paul's old radio days here. Unfortunately, they don't have a radio station anymore, but the building is this there. The campus as a whole has grown a lot and was much more impressive than what I had in my mind.

Ten miles from Wesson is the neat town of Brookhaven. I had really only been here one time before, a few weeks ago when we were coming back from an adventure to Middendorf's but it was night time and hard to see.

I wanted to come here to check out a new restaurant called Betty's Eat Shop that had been designed by our friends at Land Versus Ocean. The design was stunning.

It wouldn't be a trip if I also didn't document the cute tiny house/hair salon downtown.

We headed further south to Red Bluff, a short distance from Columbia. Known as Mississippi's Grand Canyon, it gets larger with every rainstorm and has already forced them to move the highway several times.

It is hard to tell, but you can see the old highway crumbling. My fear of heights really kicked in trying to look over the edge!

Our last stop, Hattiesburg. We stopped at one of my favorite shops for treasures, Hudson's, and drove through downtown. There were tons of people out, walking around playing Pokemon Go. There are tons of stops there!

After an amazing dinner at Crescent City Grill, it was time to head home.

Here's to more adventures!

Monday, May 30, 2016

10 Photos for May

Don't you just have those months that you look up and a month is gone? That is May for me. Graduation, Mother's Day, magazine deadline, a surgical procedure for Paul and other things in between. Here's a little bit of what we've been up to:

The weather has been so mild - a much needed escape from the beginning of oppressive heat. It truly wasn't until today, Memorial Day, that it felt flat out HOT.

Since I always have to work graduation on Mother's Day weekend, we have had to move camping back a week. We did get together on Mother's Day for a fun lunch.

A woman a few houses over is downsizing and had an estate sale. I snagged a jadeite bowl!

Ahhh... nature! The next weekend we made it to the woods!

We were excited for the break, even though our next magazine deadline was looming.

That next week, Paul saw online that a tiny house was headed to Vicksburg for the night and sent me a message asking if we could go. My response? Of course! We were very excited to see one up close and personal.

This tiny house is only 115 square feet (with an additional 50 square foot loft).

I have had my eye on a ceiling fan at Home Depot and the other day I showed it to Paul. He pointed out that it was on sale for $60 less, so I pulled the trigger! Once the magazine had gone to press, I came home from work one evening and Paul was almost done putting it up. He's so handy!

This morning was the first pool day of the summer. Here's to many more!

Hope you had a great holiday weekend!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Catch Up

My mamaw said that I needed to be blogging more, so here I am! This past few weeks has been crazy for me. Lots of work at night and on the weekend! It always gets to be this way in April and then quiets down after graduation. 

Here are some of the things that have happened:

Paul decided to tackle the brush under the back stairs. He popped out all the screws and went to town. It really does look a lot better!

At the last Fondren's First Thursday, we raced toilets. And we had macaws wandering the street. With all of this unbelievable legislation that has happened in the last few weeks, I'm reminded that this is why we stay.

A friend (and former Seattle Dripper) used our space for a cool project. I can't wait to tell you more.

I had book club with my group of girlfriends. We talked about the book Dispatches from Pluto, which was really interesting because I was only one of two native Mississippians in the group. Everyone else is a transplant - Ohio, Texas, New York, Connecticut, New Jersey. They brought an neat perspective to the group, while Kelly and I had our own to help clarify some feelings from the book.

We went to a yard sale last weekend and I found one of my favorite yard sale finds to date - this vase head. It's an old Kalalou/Country Originals "original."

You may remember me talking about Vicksburg in my last post. We went back to 10 South for dinner Friday night. It's such a neat space! It was really windy and by the end we both wished we had brought a jacket!

Here's to the weekend!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Spring Mix

Looking back through my photos, so much has happened in two weeks!

Our friends Morgan and Todd, who eloped in the fall, had a huge weekend to celebrate with family and friends that coincided with the Hal's St. Paddy's Day Parade. We had amazing food over several days and lots of time with friends (a lot of it in their fantastic backyard in Fondren!).

One of my favorite days of the year, Beth Israel's Sisterhood Bazaar. I had to get a taster's plate! Brisket, stuffed cabbage, potato knish, blintz, kugel and carrots.

We got a letter a few weeks ago saying that Paul's storage unit rent was going up. Six months ago we talked about cleaning it out, so it was really time for us to cut that out of our lives. Once we started going through everything, Paul quickly realized he had been holding on to a lot of things that he could part with.

We tackled it and emptied the unit. THEN, went through the process of sorting through everything. Below is the calendar he kept from when he was on a tour for a year, writing every city down where they traveled.

This is just a sample of the boxes!

Another reason to get rid of the storage unit payment: I got a new car! It's been so exciting to drive. I didn't know how much I would appreciate being higher off the ground.

With a new ride on our hands, we spontaneously took a trip to Vicksburg to a restaurant on the roof of a tall building next to the Mississippi River - 10 South. The food was excellent!

This weekend we had Zippity Doo Dah events, including us having a garage sale at our house. Mom, MG and I are definitely glad to have a lot of stuff out of our lives after that.

Another fun aspect to the weekend is that a car is always given away by our friends at Patty Peck Honda. Our friend Ashley was one of the key finalist this year and she has been so obsessed with this car. We went bowling the weekend before and she was convinced she was going to win. I told her that there was a chance that she wouldn't get it and we couldn't rig it for her. Y'all, SHE WON. She was the first person to try to open the box with her key and it worked. We were shocked!

I think she was about the time she was calling and saying, "Ummm... dad... I won that car."

The weather was perfect and the parade was so much fun. 

Now, for a day to myself with a book! I'm excited for some time to unplug.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Weird Week

It has been one of those weird weeks. It is Spring Break at school, but alas, staff still had to work this week. The first part of the week is usually exciting because you can knock out all of the projects you've needed to get to without distraction. By Wednesday, you're looking for things to do.

My mom sent us an image this week that said, "I like long, romantic walks down every aisle at Target." It's pretty true for us.

I was texting with her Sunday night while we were in Target, telling her we couldn't get out of the store because there was so much to see (even though we are in there at least once a week).

Just when it looked like we were headed towards the check out line, we got stopped by cute little bowls.

The latter part of the week has been pretty miserable with rain, but a good bit of us got together Thursday to see Cary and Brody one last time before they head to Indiana. We are going to miss having them so close!


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