I think I found the sweet spot of affordable, gorgeous houses in a just-barely-pre-gentrification neighborhood in Durham. There seems to be this rectangle of street blocks a 1/2 mile from where my oldest girl goes to school. Two blocks to the south or east, every third house is boarded up or burned down. Two blocks to the north or west the houses are gorgeous and not affordable. And in between these few blocks almost all the houses are for sale or being worked on. Yay Durham!

This is where I want to live, and I want to do it now. I took a walk around the neighborhood this morning, poking in windows of empty houses for sale. A contractor in a house next door started chatting with me, and then he let me walk around inside the house his crew was working on. He showed me what they were doing, and we talked about the structure of the building, and then, dear reader, he offered me the contact info for the owner of the house and said they might even negotiate sale of the house as is, without the kitchen or bathrooms even replaced yet.

I wish I knew how to get a mortgage, and I wish there were banks who would loan me money. Even though I’m unemployed, I’ve always paid my bills on time and never missed a rent payment. Shoot, I wish I knew someone who would go halfsies with me on buying the house. The downstairs parlor/bedroom/closet/bathroom combo could be a great place for a single parent and their child or two to live. Or for a single person or couple who want their own little extra living room

Every few months I let loose my dream of one day living in the most amazing house, and I get excited for a few days, and do a lot of research, and then financial reality hits so I go back to being disappointed again. Currently in the dreamy, excited phase of house fever.

So this is today’s find:

Three bedroom house built in 1900, sturdy bones, beautiful work being done, kitchen and bathrooms and closets remain unfinished/bare.
Could easily be 5-bedroom house, with all these extra rooms. Or parlor and downstairs bedroom could be its own little suite, easily shut off from rest of the house but convenient to front door and kitchen.

Porch leads to centered front door. Door opens into huge living room. To the left french doors lead into the parlor, immediately in front a door leads into the stair hall, the far right corner has an archway that leads into gigantic dining room.

Parlor has a door that leads to a bedroom with closet and bathroom. Bedroom has a door that leads to stair hall, and another door that leads to a suite of kitchen/parlor/pantry/laundry rooms/closets. Stair hall has a door to the living room, another to a bedroom, and another to back kitchen/laundry area, plus wide bright stairs leading up. Dining room has archway leading to living room and door leading into kitchen, plus a door opening outside out to side porch. There is a back porch leading off kitchen area.

Upstairs is a small front room without a closet (hence, not officially a bedroom), plus 2 bedrooms, each with their own bathroom and closet(s).

I want to buy this. So so much. Before they put in granite countertops in the kitchen.

No idleness here

September 3, 2010

Nearing the end of Matilda's quilt

So, I’m still unemployable and still living month to month, but I’ve been keeping busy.

Matilda’s quilt continues onward. Twenty-four blocks for a twin-sized quilt for my daughter were machine-pieced, the quilt sandwich was made with lovely cotton batting, and I have quilted by hand 18 of the 24 blocks. I am keeping an eye on fabric sales online to pick up some yardage for the binding which will finish it off.

I have been combing through my belongings and selling them on Ebay. I have also been making things and listing them on Etsy. A shelf behind my couch serves as my staging point for weighing, listing, packaging.

Staging point for ebay and etsy sales

Sewing nook


One corner of the living room serves as my sewing spot. It”s all there, sewing machine, ironing board, iron, yardstick, pitcher for pouring water into the iron, various scissors, cutting mat, a self-made pattern, pink wicker shelves for notions and pretty things. And of course part of my vintage handbag collection. Everything is there except, of course, for the fabric, which is mounting higher and higher in my hall closet and spilling over into stacks in boxes and flat surfaces throughout the house.

Pillowcases and fabric scraps

No longer just a closet, now a fabric closet

Dress #6 and Dress #5

August blouse #1, detail

The sewing keeps me busy, and, by extension, sane.

I have been working all summer on a pattern for My Perfect Dress that will fit my body just right. I finally got it with Dress #5 and Dress #6.

Now I’m taking the pattern-making and machine-sewing skills I have learned from dressmaking, and I’m beginning to sew a line of blouses, in sizes XS all the way to XL. The blouses are vintage-inspired, often using vintage fabric, with 3/4 sleeves, simple accents at collars and cuffs, simple lines, simple to wear. I find that the best way to get good at making something is to make the same thing over and over again. Any boredom arising from this practice is reduced by choosing different fabrics along the way for each one. I taught myself how to knit hats without a pattern with this method a few years back.

Something happens here

March 7, 2010

From Preservation NC

Swamplawn (Jones-Everett House)

Grand 1857 plantation house in impressive setting

— Price Reduced from $126,000 —
$ 89,900
4180.00 sq. feet

Lot Size: 5.7 acres
Zoning: Agricultural

3839 N.C. Highway 903
Oak City, NC 27857
Martin County

I know I’m not supposed to want to live in a fixer-upper in the middle of nowhere. I know that fixing an old house takes a lot of work and a lot of tenacity. I’m probably not cut out for it. But look at this room, things can happen in this room. Can you see it, the possibility?