Strange things I want to buy from Lee Valley

I love the Lee Valley catalog…there are always a ton of things in there that I never knew existed and now I desperately need. Or maybe desperately want to need, depending on the item.

bug clothingI mean, who doesn’t want bug clothing–and these are not clothes made out of bugs, despite the name.

You can buy individual pieces, like a jacket or pants, or the adorable headnet, and of course, mosquito gloves in small or large.

mosquite glove

Plus, you can buy complete sets of children’s bug clothing!


Now, since we’re thinking of bugs now and feeling itchy, you could also buy this adorable bug-safe mini tent to put around your chair at a soccer game (if you go to soccer games) or maybe at Shakespeare in the Park–though I’m not sure the people behind you would appreciate that!

And yes, it does have a floor (in case you were wondering since that was MY first question when I saw it).

I know this sounds like I’m making fun of Lee Valley and I’m really not. I really do think they have the coolest stuff–some of which I actually own. Like these corn forks–they are great, very sturdy and easy to hold. And only $8.50!

And these labels for leftovers…they dissolve in water when you wash the container! I can’t tell you how many nails I’ve split trying to peel off the masking tape I used to use!

I recently got this flat, write-on tape measure. I haven’t used it yet, but I’m really excited about it. You know, you measure something and don’t have a piece of paper–you can just use your pencil to make a mark on it. And the mark comes off just by rubbing it. Plus there’s a write-on spot on the side AND a pencil sharpener. I really feel they should have added a little pencil tho. It was just $8.95!

Some stuff I don’t own, but I would if I could figure out a reason. Like this berry scoop…and this is an example of how you REALLY must get the catalog as the page for the berry scoop does not do it justice and only shows the picture on the right.

berry scoop in catalog

Or this fruit and nut gatherer. How cool would that be if I had a pecan tree in my yard!?!

fruit and nut gatherer
There are even a few things I may buy soon. Like double pronged skewers for kebabs–my meats and veggies always spin around and these keep them from doing that.

Or this magnetic propane tank gauge–mine is always empty when I don’t realize it.

If I lived somewhere where these would last when I put them out, I’d love the ice lanterns. I do feel they need to be outside like for a Christmas party.

Aha, I finally found the thing I was actually looking for–I didn’t remember what it was, just that I had cut out a page from the catalog and saved it for when I was going to place an order. And it’s free shipping over $40 right now, so I wanted to order some things. I’ll need a lot more than this though, since these stay tied shoelaces are only $3.95.

Have I inspired you to go find your own cool Lee Valley items for an order? 😀 And they’re not even paying me! If you like to garden, or do woodworking, or love tools and gadgets, you’ll find even more exciting things. And really, I think their prices are very reasonable.




Our Memorial Day weekend vow to NOT do any house stuff

And how we failed at it miserably:

Friday night: We are good…no house talk, no looking at house plans. We play World of Warcraft instead.

Saturday: We start out so good. Kerrville was having their Every Festival In One Weekend weekend. We almost didn’t go–Kerrville is about an hour away and there’s always the “what if it sucks” phenomena for things that are further away. But we thought positive thoughts and went anyway. Our first stop was at the Inn of the Hills for an arts and crafts show. The inn itself was very cool. Here’s a picture of the stairs in their hallway.

2014-05-24 12.55.40

How cool is that? The arts and craft fair was just a little lame, but hey, there were 2 others going on elsewhere in the city. So we headed for downtown (about 2 blocks away). The weather was very nice–overcast with some brief showers every now and then. The downtown arts and crafts were much nicer. I would post a picture of what we bought, but my picture source (John) somehow did not take any pictures. 😦 But we bought a metal flower for the garden and a picture of gardens and a very castle-y place which is apparently near Cambridge, MA. The picture was printed on metallic paper, which gave a very unusual shimmering effect to all of her work. She actually had some pictures from a Chihuly exhibit we had gone to in the Dallas Arboretum. For those of you not familiar with Chihuly (shame on you!), here are some of his works:

Part way through the arts and crafts, we became hungry and went to lunch at a place called Grape Juice…which is adult grape juice! We almost left because there was a menu on the table with about 6 items on it–luckily I read something about it being in addition to the normal menu. Whew! Because the food was awesome (sing the Lego Movie song now). 😀 We had antelope hummus (which was hummus with spiced antelope meat and feta on top, yum), lamb t-bones, and smothered chips (with melted blue cheese, bacon, more yum). The waiter recommended a grenacha and a zin which were both exceedingly good…and he brought us a sample before we bought them. Highly recommend the place!

grape juice menu1After perusing the rest of the crafts, we decided we had had a great time and would skip the wine and brew fest (especially since one glass of wine is usually all I can drink and I’d already had one!). So we headed for home. Part way there, John says, “Maybe we should stop and look at the Gehan homes on 10”. I replied with “Yeah, I was thinking that too…but I thought we weren’t doing house stuff!” John’s argument was he was thinking about house stuff anyway so we might as well go look. We did like the Gehan houses–we had looked at them before–but up IH-10 was not our preferred location. Also the lots that were available for the particular house we liked (which was coincidentally the model–the model is the one which people tend to build since they can physically see it) were closer to the highway–lots of road noise. I wasn’t very happy with that…and Gehan isn’t building anywhere we like.

Sunday: So Sunday rolled around–I made French Toast for breakfast…always a hit. After reading the paper, I emailed the Sitterle person for Triana and asked about the lots they had available. We had originally liked their Perugia–but they weren’t building any more there since there were 2 available. I know, you’re thinking “why don’t they just buy one of those?”. Well, apparently we are the ONLY people in the world who want a media room on the first floor–the Perugia could be modified to make a bedroom into a media room, but neither of the available two had a media room. The Berkshire was similar to the Perugia and had a game room option on the first floor–which could be converted to a media room. She answered me right away and said there was a Berkshire in Aviara that we could come to see and if we would just let her know, she’d set it up with the owners. So we headed to Triana to view the Berkshire.

sitterle berkshire floor plan

The game room gets closed in with double doors from the breakfast area and a single door to the hall with the powder bath. We loved the people’s house–the flow was similar to the Perugia, but no jack and jill bath and no walking thru the utility room from the garage! Yay! Now we just have to see if Sitterle will make us a deal…

How did we do on our vow? Failed miserably, of course. 😀

As a corollary, the Sitterle people were very nice. We met them at the lot today and determined where the house would have to be. Unfortunately, the only lot available would require somewhere between 9 and 13 stairs from the garage into the house. No point in going from a 2-story to a 1-story if I have to go up a flight of stairs every time I go into the house! So, we’re back to square one…unless John calls this an out. :/

square one

Ryland decides we’re not going to build a house with them

Yes that’s right…after making us spend 5 1/2 hours signing a contract (don’t get me started, this length of time was not because we’re slow readers or signers but more the lack of organization on their side), 4 days later we were told that they “don’t think we would like the house on that lot” and “the house would fit very nicely on that (ugly) corner lot”. And then came back to say that the builder just “doesn’t think it would work out and we wouldn’t be happy”. Nice how they know what makes us happy, huh?

So, another builder doesn’t want to build with us…we’re getting a complex. We haven’t done anything wrong, seriously! But this, of course, makes me feel that people are thinking “hmmm…two builders don’t want to build with them, it must be them…there is sooo something wrong with them!” Maybe so, but really I think it’s just we know what we want–but maybe what we want no one makes?

When I think about people building new houses, I’m pretty sure they are just trusting that the builder will do everything right. Because most of the builders seem to give you a tentative price which is subject to change until you pick things out at the design center. I’m unwilling to have that kind of uncertainty–especially when Ryland couldn’t even tell me what the price differences would be for various cabinet and flooring categories.

We visited a Gehan community this weekend and they actually can give you that information. Like if you go to cabinet level D, it’s $6500 more and level F is $8000. So at least you know the maximum the upgrade charge can be. But I digress, I seem to recall that I was busy bashing Ryland. 😀 I’m sure they build perfectly fine homes, but I think in this case, they are building outside of their normal price range and don’t understand how the other builders at that price point work. Or if they did, surely they would change?

We actually think Ryland really just figured out what the foundation would be for the plan we picked on that specific lot and decided they weren’t going to make enough money. 😉

The first (and maybe final) snag–just 2 days later!

You know when you read a contract to sign and there are weird clauses in there that you just know are only there because someone once sued them for that very thing? I found this one in the Ryland Homes contract.

View Not Guaranteed:  You acknowledge that Your right to a view will stop at Your property line. By signing this agreement, You acknowledge that Ryland makes no guarantees on what may be built or changed on adjacent real estate (sic).

We just laughed about that one. Then a few pages later, I found this wording:

Position of house on lot: Ryland may move or change the position of the house upon the lot. This includes turning the house, changing the orientation of the house, etc.

I wasn’t laughing about that one. We had a particular lot and a position on the lot which allowed enough space for the pool behind the covered patio. No one was moving the house or turning it without my approval! I pointed this out to the sales lady and she said, “Oh, we would never do that!” I said, “I like you and I’d like to believe that you would not do that. However, this is a contract and I am not comfortable with that language in my contract.” John backed me up on that as did our realtor, Paula. So Ryland added an amendment to the contract.

Yesterday, the sales lady called and said the lot fit people did not want to put the side entry garage floor plan on that lot. She said they didn’t think WE would like it? She suggested we move to the one (!) other lot where the house can be built, which is a corner lot. Or change the house to a front entry garage…which results in entering the house through the laundry room, something I explicitly did not want and which results in a smaller laundry room AND a tandem garage instead of three separate bays. I told her that neither of those options were acceptable to me. She said that of course we would not be held to the contract if it did not work out–darn right!!

Still waiting on the results…

Dum dum dum…it’s semi-official

I know, you’re all wondering–what in the heck happened to the house building blog. Well, we wavered, we vacillated, we flipflopped, we changed our minds (sometimes a couple of times in one day). We’ll just wait, just forget it, let’s buy an existing house…on and on and on. Finally, we calmed down some and thought about what we wanted. We decided we did kind of want a community (as long as it is, of course, just the right kind of community), but we also wanted a little seclusion.

Triana out in Helotes seemed to fit the picture we had. There’s a pool and a playground, but every row of houses has at least 30′ of green space behind their back fence. And Ryland (gasp!) had the floor plan we liked the best, was running a good promotion, and had an awesome lot for our new house.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The lot is on a cul de sac, so should be nice and secluded, plus behind it is the Triana’s (name of the people who sold the land to the developer) home ranch–pretty large. We like our floor plan and asked for just a couple small changes–we’ll see how amenable they are to making them. Plus, we made them write into our contract that we can back out (and get our money back) after we see the upgrade pricing at the design center (hence the semi-official-ness). We also like the elevation and the side entry garage.

This is the floor plan we're getting

This is the floor plan we’re getting

Front elevation

Front elevation

Will John and Lynne change their mind? Will John tell the saleslady that she must not want to sell us a house if she won’t make the changes we want? Will Lynne be able to pick out kitchen cabinets for an amount she feels is reasonable? Will John be snide when told each additional outlet he wants to add is $65 (probably)? Stay tuned for more updates from the bat cave…