Posted in Apartment Living, Blogging, Writing Challenges

My overachieving thermostat…

Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while now will probably remember the issues that we had with heating (and cooling) the townhouse that we lived in for 2 years before moving to the apartment that we live in now. The townhouse was about as energy efficient as a cardboard box… Possibly less. We quickly discovered during our first winter there that we would have to make a choice between being warm or being able to afford to pay our bills and buy groceries. So we turned our thermostat down as far as we could without risking the pipes freezing, the temperature that you’re supposed to set it to before going on vacation, and then we just lived like that. There were parts of the townhouse that would be in the 50s, and even then we could barely afford to pay our natural gas bill because it was so stupidly expensive.

We were really excited to discover that the apartment that we moved into last winter actually stayed warm without the heat running all the time. It also helped that natural gas is a community expense. The apartment complex is billed for all of the natural gas usage for the entire complex and then they in turn bill the residents based on the size apartment that you live in and how many people live there. In other words, we all share the expense of staying warm in the winter.

This month the fact that it’s a shared expense is probably going to be a very good thing because my thermostat has started to forget to turn off the heat after hitting a certain temperature. 

It’s started to do its job a little too well. 

I find that I’m having to get up out of bed to tap on the thermostat to make the heat turn off. I’ve shifted the temperature a bit trying to find a comfortable temperature and one that it will hopefully not get stuck on at. I’d really rather not have to call maintenance about this. 

So I’ve gone from an apartment where we couldn’t afford to run the heat to one where I find myself sweating in the winter because the thermostat forgets to turn the heat off. I should have known how well things worked last winter when we moved in wouldn’t last. That’s just not my luck when it comes to heating and cooling systems.

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Posted in Apartment Living, Blogging, Writing Challenges

Nano Poblano 2016 – Day 3: Throwback Thursday

Throwback to a blog post from last year that shows why I was busy getting ready to move instead of participating in Nano Poblano. Just follow the link.

https://theillusionofcontrolledchaos.wordpress.com/2015/10/26/sorry-our-intent-to-vacate-paperwork-ruined-your-plans-to-raise-our-rent/
(I’m sure that there is probably a better way to do this, but I couldn’t figure out if I could name it what I wanted and use the tags I wanted if I reblogged it… If anyone has any tips for me, feel free to speak up in the comments!)

Posted in Adulting, Apartment Living

Some thoughts on moving, six months later…

In a few days we’ll have been living in our new apartment for 6 months. While I sometimes wish that we had a bit more space, I’m glad that we decided to go with this one bedroom apartment over the 2 bedroom 2 bathroom (1 1/2 bathroom? It had a weird “Jack & Jill” bathroom setup.) apartment that was “cheaper” in the apartment complex down the street. I can’t imagine not having any (somewhat) private outdoor space at all. I’m in love with our large patio surrounded by bushes. (Although it’s now somewhat less surrounded than it used to be since they tore out a good chunk of bushes recently as the photo below shows)

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The bushes usually house a good number of house sparrows and we have put up a couple of bird feeders on our patio. The bird feeders have made the sparrows happy and have also attracted a score of other birds to our patio including:
Dark-eyed Juncos
Spotted Towhees
Doves
Redbreasted Robins
Starlings
Pigeons
Quail
Mallard Ducks

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Not to mention the fact that had we decided to go with the other apartment complex we probably would not have gotten brand new carpeting, linoleum and countertops.
And honestly, I have no idea what we’d do with a second bedroom anyway.

For the first time in about a decade we live in a place that won’t freeze us in the winter and boil us in the summer all while bankrupting us through utility bills.
And it’s actually taking a bit of an adjustment.
I find that I’m still bracing myself for when summer really starts even though it’s already been in the mid 90’s out here this year.
Our apartment stays a consistent temperature whether it’s freezing or unseasonably hot outside. After moving I slowly learned that I no longer had to wear several layers plus a blanket inside to have a chance of avoiding hypothermia.

This is not an exaggeration. We had our thermostat set to the lowest temperature we could set it to without risking freezing the pipes in our old place, the temperature they tell you to set it to if you’re going on vacation and won’t be living there only we stayed, and our natural gas bill was still stupid expensive.

Now I find that I’m waiting for the day when it gets up to over 90 degrees inside our apartment, because that’s what our last two summers were like. And that was with an actual central air conditioning system. For the 8 years before that we dealt with a swamp cooler, which sadly seemed to work better than our actual air conditioner. I don’t know what perfect storm of problems led to our air conditioner running nonstop all summer (starting in March because the sun heated that place like an oven. Well half that place, the other half was always freezing until actual summer came) but not managing to actually make the place any cooler, but I’m so glad to be out of that bank account draining hell. Our electric bills got up to about $200, for a fairly small one bedroom townhouse, and we still had to deal with living in unbearably hot conditions.

It’s already been in the mid 90’s out here and the warmest it’s gotten in our apartment was around 77 degrees, and that was only because the area where the thermostat is was blocked off by a curtain for a while. We set the thermostat to around a certain temperature (I miss my digital thermostat) and the apartment stays around that temperature. Without the air conditioner running nonstop. Our bank account is thanking us.

Posted in Adulting, Apartment Living, Cat Mom, Health, Marriage

The extremely short lives of our tax refunds…

We filed our taxes as soon as my husband’s W-2 became available.

And then received additional tax forms in the mail.

Luckily the forms would not effect our refund amounts, but they did mean that we would need to amend our taxes.

We’ll be waiting to file until after we receive those forms from now on. Doing taxes once a year is enough for me.

Thanks for wasting my time

But, like I said, we filed our taxes as soon as we could, so that we would receive our refunds from the Federal and State governments as soon as possible.

No big fun plans for those refunds, just lots of debt to pay off. And the sooner it was paid off the better.

Our federal refund showed up first and very quickly most of that money was transferred from our bank account to the various accounts of those we owed money to.

A couple hundred to our doctor’s office to pay off what they decided we owed after a visit that was supposed to be covered completely by our insurance last year. Attempts to get them to fix their mistake went nowhere fast, so it was just easier to pay the debt and make the entire thing go away.

LemurThanksYouButNo1-vi

Several hundred each to our Care Credit cards to pay off all the debt that we racked up the year before through all the dental work that we both needed done after not seeing a dentist for well over a decade.

We had plans to pay of some off our credit card debt, build up our depleted savings, and resume saving for retirement again with the refund that we had coming from the State. We had hopes that we’d have something left from that to do something fun as well.

And then we received a bill from our dentist letting us know that we actually capped out on what our insurance would cover during 2015, so insurance didn’t pay as much as they thought they would, and we now owed them over $800. And could we please make that payment within 10 days?

Whaaat Minion

So much for not having anymore debt on our Care Credit cards for a while… thank goodness we just paid them off though.

So we made another plan on how to pay off this new debt. And then I got sick. For a month. With the chest cold from hell. (Still have an annoying cough that just won’t quite go away. I’m soooo close to being completely better though.)

And then last week our cat pounced onto the bottom shelf of one of our rather old, kinda cheap end tables one to many times and one of the little plastic feet broke off.

Never expected much

 

We had been talking about buying new end tables soon, but we didn’t expect it to be quite so soon.

 

So another plan for what to do with our tax refund went out the window.

dan-renzi-quote-life-is-what-happens-while-youre-busy-making-other

Our State tax refund finally showed up…

and very quickly was scattered among various payments to others.

To buy new end tables and new cushions for our outdoor furniture.

A payment to Care Credit to start to pay down this new, unexpected debt.

A payment to our credit card, to help pay down our older debt.

A payment to the Utah Transit Authority to refill our transit cards and enable us to be able to continue to use public transportation.

A transfer to our savings account so that our emergency fund might actually be useful in an emergency.

And a transfer to Curtis’ IRA to make sure that we’ve at least saved something toward his retirement this year. (Our retirement savings years end in July, the month he was born in.)

Being an adult is not nearly as much fun as I thought it would be when I was yearning to grow up as a kid…

Calvin & Hobbs Becoming an Adult

But I have to say there is a definite sense of accomplishment in having paid off so much debt. Even if it was only temporarily for some of it.

Posted in Apartment Living, Cat Mom, Random

A few of the issues we’ve run into since moving into our new place…

We moved into our current apartment about a month and half ago. During that time we’ve run into a few issues. Here’s a list of the hiccups and annoyances that we’ve encountered.
Great Idea until packing

  1. During the move while attempting to pack the truck my husband, Curtis, “barely touched” the plastic piece that surrounds where the bulb goes on one of our rather old lamps with another piece of furniture that he was trying to shove in the truck and it basically shattered. We knew that we needed to get new lamps soon anyway, but we weren’t planning on doing it immediately after moving in.
    We spent a good amount of time after the truck was empty making sure that all the broken plastic bits were all swept out of the truck.
  2. Speaking of lamps, the night that we moved in we realized that there was no overhead light in the bedroom and that we would also be needing to buy a lamp for in there.
  3. When we were attempting to put our bed back together we originally were planning on having the headboard up against a certain wall. We quickly realized that there was only one wall that it and our nightstands would fit along though, and it was not that wall. We had to shift everything over to underneath the window. Luckily, our bed is fairly low to the ground and the headboard ends just below the window sill and doesn’t block the window at all. Opening and closing the curtains is a bit more of a hassle now though.
    Fairstone Bedroom 1-26-2016 1
  4. Once the bed was moved beneath the window, our futon would most definitely no longer be finding a home in the bedroom. I had my doubts about it fitting in the living room, but it turned out to fit much better than we expected.
  5. We have a cat. And with a cat comes a litter box. The one spot in the entire apartment that would fit his litter box was one side of the pantry in the dining room. The pantry is behind a couple of sliding doors, so we could leave one side open just enough for him to slip in and out. Only I kept finding the door leading to his litter box closed all the way. We ended up having to stick a binder clip on the door track to prevent anyone from closing the door all the way and therefore shutting the cat out of his litter box.
  6. When we went to hook up our dryer we realized that our new apartment had a 4 prong electrical outlet. Our dryer had a 3 prong plug. We made yet another trek down the street to Lowes (this store became our second home during the first couple weeks after our move we were in there so often) in the hopes of finding an adapter. Only they don’t make those sort of adapters, you have to buy a whole new dryer cord instead and switch them out. Dryer cords are expensive.
    Money can't buy happiness
  7. We realized last laundry day that we should have checked the dryer vent before we hooked up the dryer as well. I came into the laundry room to find a puddle of water on the floor by my dryer and that my clothes were taking forever to dry. So we cleaned as much lint as we could out of the dryer itself and then unhooked the dryer to clean out the vent.
    I swear that the previous tenants had to have been running their dryer without any sort of lint screen at all. Not only was the dryer vent completely blocked up with lint, but there was also inexplicably what seemed to be a wad of paper towels in there as well as other various bits of paper and what might have been a large bandage. I don’t know how they managed it and I’d hate to see the state of their dryer…
  8. And while we’re on the subject of the previous tenants, I have no idea what they could have been storing in the linen closet in the bathroom, but every time we opened it after first moving in this god awful smell would waft out. Now, I suppose it’s possible that it was the smell of the chemicals used in painting and putting down new linoleum, but after seeing the state of the dryer vent I wouldn’t be surprised if the previous tenants were at least partially responsible for that smell.
  9. The first time that we attempted to turn on the light in the laundry room we discovered that there is a vent fan in that room. A rather loud vent fan. I am still not completely sure why it’s there, though I do use it while running the dryer now, but it took me a long time to stop flipping that switch when trying to turn on the light. Especially since the switches are opposite to the way that they are set up in the bathroom. I’m convinced that at least one of the reasons it’s there is to annoy the hell out of me.
    LemurThanksYouButNo1-vi
  10. Our kitchen is nice, but it’s small. There was only one counter that our microwave would fit on, which also happened to be the only real prep space in the kitchen. This clearly wasn’t going to work out so we ended up having to build a shelf in our dining room area for our microwave. We already had to take up some space in the dining room for our chest freezer so we just built the shelf over it. We would have made a smaller shelf, but the wall brackets only come so small and the good people at Lowes were not able to cut them down to size for us. They did helpfully offer to sell us the tools to do it ourselves though. We declined.
    Fairstone Dining Room 1-26-2016 2
  11. When we first moved in we checked out the dishwasher and discovered that it wouldn’t close. Maintenance came out and said that the countertop installers never actually reattached the dishwasher to the brackets under the counter. He screwed it back in and demonstrated how the door now properly opened and closed. Once he left and we went to go and load our dishwasher for the first time however we discovered that the top rack was missing at least half of the prongs to hold the dished in place, and the ones that were still there were all rusted out. Maintenance had to come back out and replace it for us. And then Curtis had to reinstall it so that the rack would actually pull out and give us access to load the dishes.
  12. A few days ago we noticed a leak underneath the kitchen sink. It seemed small at first, until we realized that there was a layer of water under everything in there. covered the breakfast bar counter with paper towels and pulled everything out to take a look. I have no idea how long it had been like this, but the drain pipe for our second sink had come detached from the rest of the drainage pipes. Curtis made several attempts at fixing it, bumped his head and gave up. I really didn’t want to have to deal with maintenance the next day so I sat down to give it a try. I managed to to get the seal back on the pipe correctly and get everything hooked up tight again. I’m willing to bet that the countertop installers were to blame for this as well. Being able to fix the pipes myself and not having to call out maintenance was a huge victory though. Who knows when they would have come out.
  13. It’s been a really long time since we’ve had upstairs neighbors. We expected some annoyances, but we didn’t count on moving into an apartment below a child that doesn’t seem to know how to move without running and jumping and falling most of the time. Or just a child I guess…
    The adults aren’t much better some of the time either, they seem to forget that they can get from place to place without stomping. We’ve mostly gotten used to the sound of a herd of elephants above us, but there are times when I’m convinced that that child is trying to jump through our ceiling and into our apartment.
  14. We also live in a non-smoking building… but at least one of our upstairs neighbors is a smoker. We know because of all of the cigarette butts that end up on our balcony. I’m not sure if smoking is allowed on the balconies in this building or not. It wouldn’t really bother me if they would just throw away their own cigarette butts instead of dumping them on us.
  15. The first time that we used our collapsible shopping cart to walk groceries home from Costco after moving we were barely across the street from the store when we hit a curb wrong and shattered one of the front wheels. Curtis had to treat it like a reverse wheelbarrow and keep it tipped back on its back wheels for the rest of the 3 miles back home. Needless to say, we then had to order ourselves a new shopping cart.
Posted in Apartment Living, Cat Mom, Marriage, Weather

Some thoughts on our recent move…

About a month and a half ago my husband and I moved out of the 1 bedroom townhouse that we had only been living in for two years and into a 1 bedroom apartment down the road.

This is what our balcony looked like the morning of the move…

Hunters Woods Balcony 12-15-2015

Mother Nature decided to dump about six inches of snow on us the day before our move. The forecast said that it was supposed to continue to snow throughout the day of our move as well. Luckily, that didn’t happen, but it did stay well below freezing the entire day. The snow and the cold meant that we had to wear our winter boots all day while moving.

Our moving day started with a 2 mile trek through the snow and ice to the U-Haul store to pick up our truck for the day, while carrying a bundle of about 25 or so extra boxes to sell back to U-Haul. A good amount of the sidewalks had not been cleared yet, so this was far from a fun walk.

Once we had the truck, moving out of our townhouse went surprisingly quickly. We had everything out of the garage where we had staged it and into the truck in about 2 hours. Next step was getting out traumatized cat into his carrier and into the truck, and then doing a final walk-through of the townhouse to make sure we weren’t leaving anything behind.

Then it was off to our new apartment complex to wait around in the office (with our cat in his carrier. No way was I leaving him in the freezing truck.) to sign our lease and find out if all the work was done in our apartment and it was ready to be moved into. We were relieved to hear that they were actually just finishing up in our apartment and that it would be ready for us to start moving into by the time we had completed all of the paperwork.

Approximately 50,000 signatures later we were finally able to start unloading the truck. We were hoping that a couple of my husband’s coworkers were going to come over from his office across the street and help us move, but nobody showed. So we unloaded the truck by ourselves.

Unloading the truck proved to be much more time consuming than loading it had been since we had to walk farther to get things into the apartment, but considering the fact that it was just the two of us doing this move it went pretty quickly. I believe it only took us 4-5 hours to unload the truck.

Once the final box was moved out of the truck and into the apartment we drove the truck back to the U-Haul store and almost weren’t able to drive it up the hill of a driveway to park it behind the building due to all the black ice.  We somehow got it in and parked and after dropping the keys in the night drop off box it was time for us to walk the 3 miles back home.

In subfreezing temperatures.

In the dark.

That was one miserable walk.

At 11:19 pm we found ourselves sitting in a Denny’s right down the street from our new place waiting for our dinner. That was the best pot roast I have ever had.

At about 4:30 am we finally had our bed put back together and the essentials unpacked and were able to crawl into bed… to be awoken by an alarm at 9 am. The keys to our old place had to be returned that day, and spaces needed to be cleared for the Comcast home security installer that was coming that afternoon.

Moving is exhausting, and I really hope that we won’t have to do it again for many, many years, but this move did turn out to be well worth it.

First of all, the temperature in the apartment in consistent from room to room. I don’t think it’s ever gotten below 65° in this apartment. No more waking up to a bedroom and bathroom that are 50 something degrees while the rest of the apartment is at least 10 degrees warmer. Or the opposite in the summer. Not freezing in our apartment has been amazing.

Second, my husbands office is literally right across the street. A five minute walk. So much better than the 30-40 minutes that it used to take him to walk to work and back at our old place.

Third, brand new carpet and linoleum. Not to mention the fact that this bathroom actually has a door.

Fairstone Bathroom 1-26-2016 2

Fourth, brand new countertops.

Fairstone Kitchen Sink 1-26-2016

Fifth, open concept floorplan and a breakfast bar.

Fairstone Living Room 1-26-2016 6

Sixth, a walk-in closet.

Fairstone Walk-in Closet 1-26-2016 2

And seventh, a rather large patio with lots of birds that live in the bushes around it.

Brids on Fairstone patio 12-25-2015

Our cat says this is the best thing about our new place.

Teddy Bear looking out at Fairstone Patio 1-26-2016

That and the larger birds that also come to visit sometimes.

Teddy Bear and the ducks 1-26-2016