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Old quilt - family treasure

posted by: auntjen on 07.10.2009 at 11:20 am in Home Decorating Forum

My 92 year old Grannie is preparing to move into a nursing facility (I don't even like to think about this, so I won't dwell on that fact), and has said that she wants to give me a few things, one being the quilt that her mother made out of scraps of fabric from Grannie's and her sisters' dresses when they were children. I will be so honored to have such a treasure, but I'm really not sure how to best care for it and display it. One thing I won't be able to do is use it on a bed, as my cats would quickly claim it and it would be covered in shed cat fur in no time. It's too precious to me to allow that to happen. Also, I worry about it getting dirty/dusty if I display it on a quilt rack, although I suppose that is preferable to being covered in kitty hair. Are there special cases made for displaying large pieces like a quilt? If I recall correctly, it fits a double bed.

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clipped on: 07.16.2009 at 10:07 am    last updated on: 07.16.2009 at 10:08 am

RE: Squirrelheaven and other photoshop experts how do you do it?! (Follow-Up #2)

posted by: funcolors on 07.15.2009 at 07:18 pm in Home Decorating Forum

I don't use Elements. I believe it's for Photo Editing specifically. ??? What you want to do kinda, sorta isn't really editing a photo. Another way to look at it is, you're creating a new image and the photo you have just happens to be what your start with to build the image.

The things that will help you with color are Channel Mixer (RGB), Color Picker, Custom Color in the Picker, Swatches and Swatch Libraries. Layers, grayscale, opacity, and luminosity are also useful.

If I remember correctly, PS Elements does not have a Channel Mixer but everything else - I think. So you're going to have to Google for tutorials or buy a book. Sitting there just clicking and playing with it will yeild some advancement, but probably nothing that's going to significantly make a difference and move you forward.

There's nothing about Adobe that is user friendly and the average person can not buy a package and figure out how to use the software in just a couple hours. I've been working with various Adobe products for many years and I still get stumped sometimes.

One of the home visualizer paint programs is a good suggestion. It might cost $10-$40 or whatever but they are a whole lot easier to figure out. The color quality offered in those programs leaves a lot to be desired. Can't pay any attention to the paint color names. You have to look at the colors offered and try to *match* them up to the paint chip colors you want to see.

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clipped on: 07.16.2009 at 09:19 am    last updated on: 07.16.2009 at 09:19 am

Pictureframes.com - opinions??

posted by: crashboombang on 07.15.2009 at 10:47 am in Home Decorating Forum

I saw a while back where someone had posted a link to this site. I'm thinking about ordering some custom frames from there, and before I do was wondering if anyone has had any experiences with them. Thanks!

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Picture Frames
clipped on: 07.16.2009 at 09:08 am    last updated on: 07.16.2009 at 09:08 am

RE: landlords, can I learn from your experiences please? (Follow-Up #14)

posted by: moonshadow on 07.01.2009 at 04:49 pm in Home Decorating Forum

Landlord/property mgr of several single family homes here. I have all kinds of stories I could share with you, pages worth. Pardon the length. I've tried to condense tips, suggestions, what I have learned from the school of hard knocks. True stories included as illustrations. ;)

1) Cover yourself insurance wise. Since you won't be occupying the home as homeowner you'll need to get Dwelling and Fire coverage. Make sure liability portion is ample in case someone gets hurt. Keep in mind this coverage is for structures and liability only - no contents. Tenants must secure Renter's Insurance to cover their personal belongings. You can't necessarily make them get RI, but I put a clause in the lease that tenants are urged to do so and mention Owner's insurance does not cover tenants belongings. Another way to cover yourself. Also, I have heard (but have not checked into it), that when renting out your own primary residence and there's a mortgage involved, that doesn't always fly well with lender, who does not like to see D&F Insurance on the house. (Don't take that as gospel, tho). Check with an agent other than your own, so you can get an idea without giving your agent a heads up.

2.) No matter how good someone looks on paper or in person, you will not know how they live until they actually are inside your house. Our rentals are 'starter-mid level homes'. I know someone who owns several pieces of pricey real estate in Chicago's Gold Coast area (cream of the crop). Rent is multiple thousands a month at minimum. Tenants are top execs, attorneys, MDs, etc. Same horror stories with damage and not paying $ as I have experienced.

3.) The Lease. I have one that has been tweaked over ten years, adding clauses as issues have arisen. Attorney approved. Also, know your State's Landlord Tenant laws. It will turn up in a google search and most are not that difficult to comprehend. I can email you a blank of the lease I use, if you like. You might have to tweak it to suit your state laws. I use a term lease tho. Knowing what I know now, and were I in your shoes, I'd absolutely do a month to month lease. Googling will produce free sample leases too. (I've done monthly with tenants I was doubtful of, it is worked out after several months I put them on longer term.) Yes, a monthly lease gives your tenant a chance to bolt before you're ready, but heaven forbid something goes terribly wrong, you can get them out fast. On a month to month, you only need give 30 days written notice, no matter your reason. Uncle Marv just got paroled and needs a place to stay, you're returning early, doesn't matter. On a term lease, once they're in, they're dug in and if something goes south you're going to have to go through some legal maneuvering to get them out.

4.) I would not, repeat not, leave keys with a neighbor. You are leaving yourself wide open with that one. Once your tenant signs on the dotted line, your house immediately becomes their home and laws are in place so it's respected as such. Even if your prospective tenant says she doesn't mind now, odds are she will start to mind once she's settled in.

A handyman under contract (and I'd have a written contract with him) would probably be OK since you're away. But do check his background for sure (see #5 below). You're going into an arena where for your own protection and that of your tenant you cannot take anyone's word for anything. And you must check your State laws on entry. Nearly all have stipulations. LLs or their agents cannot just waltz in unannounced. My State is not explicit, other than I have to give 'reasonable notice'. Doesn't stipulate a time line or that it be in writing. Some States do require xx days written notice to enter (emergencies are by and large excluded). Typically I give 24 hr verbal minimum for repair (I strive for fast turn around time, keeps everybody happy). And I always try to do repairs when tenant will be home. Another measure of protection. I also do not let contractors in unaccompanied, whether tenant is home or not. I go along, stay nearby, and leave with them. If tenant is not home, I call tenant when I'm entering with contractor & again when leaving/locking up. I will say however, that I have never had the need to do a formal inspection. Typically repairs or calls for assistance require my presence inside the home at least several times a year, so I take that opportunity to look around. I don't snoop, do look past dust bunnies. I'm looking for evidence of abuse or neglect, such as holes punched in walls or a toilet leaking that I wasn't informed of that has now trashed the bathroom flooring in a week's time (yes, that's happened). When I saw the curled up flooring at base of toilet I got an 'oh yeah, I've been meaning to tell you about that...'

So in your circumstance, you need someone trustworthy, no criminal record, who will respect the tenant's rights (that's so critical) and abide by your State laws. Otherwise, you're headed for trouble. You might consider a property manager who hires out their services. (In my area they generally take either a month's rent up front or a percentage of monthly rent as their fee.)

5.) Credit Check. Yes, absolutely do a credit check. I stopped ordering them because the agency I use, due to ID theft, has raised fees through the roof and amped up security requirements. Understandable, but I'm too mom and pop for the high fees and required quarterly inspections of my home office at $200 each to make sure it's all under lock & key. (It is, but the fees in total are killer.)

Another thing, keep tenant's private paperwork in a secure, private place, preferably in your possession alone unless you hire a Prop Mgr. You have to be careful when handling people's credit reports. Certainly do not discuss with neighbor or handyman! I use a locked fire safe.

Anyway, what I do now is request tenants provide me their own when they hand in their Application. Easy enough with such ready access these days. AnnualCreditReport.com is one I commonly recommend, it's the only FTC approved site that doesn't have a bunch of strings and gimmicks. And it's free. Benefit to you and tenant is SS# and all account numbers are almost (but not completely) X'd out. So, unless you are ordering a credit report or background check, you won't need their full SS#. And sure don't need bank and CC account #s. The latter especially is info I personally do not want in my possession. Bank account & CC#'s are of no benefit and I want no fingers pointing my way should someone have their ID or CC# stolen.

Oh, and on credit reports, don't hold medical bills against people. That's a real gray area prone to billing areas. That advice came from a mentor who manages a very large local complex. Then later I had my own first hand experience. My credit was impeccable. Had major surgery at a Chicago hospital, inpatient. A week after I got home I got notice in mail. Some goofball clerk had sent my bill (at the time not even fully tallied up) to collections two days before I was even discharged. Miserable and all stitched up, I had to have someone drive me back up there to get it straightened out.

6.) Background: All you need to do a baseline freebie background search is a full name, DOB, and a prior address for match up purposes. Most local County court dockets are online now. Keep in mind it won't show if your tenant was in a federal prison, but if a quick local search reveals something you can stop there and reject them. If that's clean, then consider a national background check. For local, go to the County web site of residence where your applicant lives (or has lived) and run their name through the docket. That's where a DOB, last 4 digits of SS# or prior address comes in handy, to make sure your Sue Smith is the same Sue Smith on dockets. Everything will show, from speeding tickets to divorce. It paints a pretty good portrait of their lifestyle. Look for behaviors or items that could manifest as rent payment issues or damage to your home. Do not under any circumstances rent to someone who has been Evicted or has a Property Judgment against them (they've been convicted of damaging someone else's property and were taken to court because they didn't pay). Docket and/or credit report will show if Judgment has or hasn't been satisfied. Even if satisfied, I still automatically reject them. Be wary of those with domestic assault charges (generally means walls get punched too), restraining orders filed against them, been in arrears on mortgage and taken to court, things like that. (My state has a new law, however, that I cannot decline someone who has requested a Restraining Order against someone else.)

I just turned down what I thought was a very nice woman because docket showed she was involved in a traffic accident (no biggie) but apparently she got ticked off enough to clock the other party, resulting in her getting charged with battery.

You may or may not have to send rejection in writing if you reject your applicant. Be careful there as well. You can easily turn someone down based on bad credit. You might not be able to legally turn someone down like my girl with the battery charge, but I did it anyway because her credit history had some questionable items, so that was my out. No way do I want someone with that kind of fuse and temper in one of my houses, walls and doors will get the brunt of it.

As part of screening, do check your local sex offender registry. For handyman too.

7.) Personal Interview/Walk through. I promise you, based on experience showing properties, many people will hide or try to slide all kinds of things past you. So you've got to meet your applicant in person, walk them through, engage them in related conversation and listen well. 'Read' them, and do take an hour or so and do your research homework. It will spare you much grief. (Another gal I just showed a house to seemed to have potential till we were wrapping it up and she said "My mom always taught me when I break a lease to make sure I leave the house clean and leave the Sec Deposit, so you wouldn't have to worry about that." She thought she was getting brownie points, but in reality she had just disqualified herself because she essentially told me she habitually breaks leases and has no problem doing so.

Your call whether you want to have a checklist ready at walk through. Not a bad idea if there are known issues such as a chip in a wood floor or nick in a tile, etc. Freebie checklists are online too.

8.) Checking references. Get them for prior LLs and employers and call! Do not permit cellular numbers for any prior landlords or employment. Land line only. Can't tell you how many times I've checked references on a cell # and it's a friend. So I won't accept them anymore. Once I have the land line # I got to whitepages.com and do a Reverse Lookup and make sure landline # matches up to name and address of reference. (You'd be surprised how many times it does not.) Also, when a prior rental address is given and prior LLs name, go to assessors or recorders office online and make sure the owner of that address is the same person they've put down as LL. (I've had that fudged, too. Example: John Smith listed as reference/owner/LL of 123 Maple St. where tenant lived from 2002-06. Look up 123 Maple Street in tax records online and see Bob Brown owned it during that rental period. No mention of John Smith ever owning that property. So I go to whitepages.com, get Bob Brown's phone #, give him a call. And that's when I usually get an earful about how the applicant trashed the place and bolted owing $$.

Also, don't rely on current LL. Often they give good reviews to get a bad tenant out. Go at least one prior LL back, they will be much more honest. That's where you'll get the real scoop, good or bad.

9) Security Deposit. By all means, get it. It's uncommon not to. And make sure it's ample. I currently charge $1000 SD for monthly rent under $1000. Monthly rent over $1000 I charge the monthly rent amount as Sec Dep. With higher materials/labor/repair costs today it's necessary to get a bit more. Again, check State laws, but in most cases SD is never to substitute for last month's rent as some tenants believe. It's for damages, lost income if they bail early, etc.

I can also promise you that sometimes really stupid things happen that common sense could have prevented and it shouldn't come out of your pocket. (Had two separate tenants at two separate houses fail to remove storm door chain and pin hinge so door would not be restricted upon opening. So move-in day they swing door wide open to allow for furniture. One house storm door broke completely away from door frame, cracking frame. The other one it caused the hinges to break. Not a good start there.)

Watch state law on that too, many say Sec Deps cannot exceed equivalent of 1 1/2 months rent.

And spare yourself a ton of grief and do not allow candles of any kind (clean burning or not). Just this winter I had a clean up bill to the tune of nearly $2400 on a little 2 BR because of candle soot. Painter sealing it all in with BIN was $1000 alone, so there went SD. Soot wasn't readily visible when I was in the house because they had dark heavy curtains and liked low lighting. Once their belongings were out and bright sunlight in, there was soot all over. Upper walls at ceiling, blinds I leave there, carpet cleaning machine water was pitch black. When DH & I removed outlet covers there was a perfect outline in soot. The worst part is the damage to (newer) vinyl window frames and ceramic tile & grout. For some reason (it's porous?) those items just sucked up soot. Despite hours of scrubbing with harsh cleaners, there is still gray residue on some vinyl frames and grout (all were snow white before). Suspect it's in HVAC system as well, I see black dust on white surfaces there when I'm showing it. And that's a brand new costly furnace in there. Never again. I'm banning all candles from here on out, would urge you to do the same, soot cleanup has by far been my worst nightmare.

10.) Lead Based Paint. If you're renting a pre-1978 house you'll need to have a brochure printed out to give to your tenant and completed Disclaimer attached to lease. Both can be printed out at those links.

I'm stopping for now. There's probably more but I need to get back to work.

Oh, and I don't mean to sound jaded or lump all renters into a negative light. Quite the contrary, I've had some wonderful tenants that I really miss & wish I could clone. But you are where I was ten years ago, so maybe my experiences will save you some grief. I was naive, trusting, thought the best of everyone, and was more casual friendly and less businesslike. That's my nature and in this arena it came back to bite me one way or another till I finally changed my ways. Now I'm friendly but firm when I have to be, and never cross that line of not keeping it a business-like relationship. I respect my tenants and take good care of them and in return all I ask is they take care of the place, don't break the law, and pay on time. Occasional jerk aside, it works out well and we have a very good rapport.

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GREAT reference for future. (Renting)
clipped on: 07.10.2009 at 03:29 pm    last updated on: 07.10.2009 at 03:30 pm

RE: Pregnant niece - I need advice! (looong) (Follow-Up #16)

posted by: scarlet_morgan on 07.10.2009 at 09:51 am in Home Decorating Forum

Obviously, I don't know your family personally, but I truly believe Suzie will be just fine. As others have mentioned, just watching her older sister deal with the significant consequences of having a baby as a teen is going to have an enormous impact on her and will most likely serve as a very effect form of birth control, especially if Mary intents to stay in the family home for the time being to raise her new little one.

I would also like to say that I totally agree with AuntJen. What's done is done and there is nothing that can be done to change it now. Mary is a young lady who made a mistake and should not have to hear about it for the rest of her life. I also believe her parents should not be berated for *allowing* their daughter to date a guy who is 18. First of all, did they even know how old he is? At first, you say she is 16 but then you say she was 15 when they were dating. Is it possible that he is 18 now but was 17 when they were dating and she got pregnant? If so, then I don't really see a big issue with the fact that she was dating someone 2 years older. I'm definitely not a big fan of allowing girls to date at 15, but I also believe it should be a decision made by the parents.

Should there have been more rules and more supervision in place? Possibly. However, we are not her parents and we were not there. We do not know exactly what went on. We do not know what the situation was surrounding her involvement with this young man. It is quite possible that there *were* rules in place and she just simply sneaked around and saw him anyway. Most teens are very strong willed and can be quite sneaky! They often will do whatever they want to do if they want to do it badly enough. Parents may do everything in their power to raise their children to make the best decisions possible. However, kids still make mistakes, sometimes really, really big ones. When that happens, I believe you have to acknowledge that you are very disappointed in their *choice* but that you still love them unconditionally. That's just what parents do.

I say this as a person who got pregnant at 16 and became a mom to my first DD at 17. I was an honor student at school and I was very active in my church. My parents did not allow me to date until I was 16 and they were very, very strict about what I did and who I saw. They were VERY overbearing and protective my whole life because they had lost a child before me shortly after he was born. They wanted only the best for me, so they did everything they thought parents should do to teach me how to be a fine young lady with upstanding morals and character. I was in church every time the doors were open and I had rules upon rules that I had to obey. I did very well at school and would have had a scholarship to a very great college if things had gone differently. However, in November of my junior year in high school, I found myself pregnant with my first child. I had been going out in groups since I was 15 and had met my first serious boyfriend who was 2 years older than me. We were finally allowed to 'date' alone when I was 16. My parents were *very* strict about where we went and what we did. However, I wanted to see him more, so I sneaked around and saw him when I was supposed to be at a friends house, babysitting, etc. He was sooooo good looking and I had never had anyone pay me that much attention before. After a while, he started pressuring me to have s e x. I didn't want to lose him as a boyfriend so I finally gave in. My parents were definitely not ones to discuss that three letter word, so I did not know much about it (except what I learned from my friends) and I certainly didn't know about how to obtain birth control. We had only been intimate a couple times when I got pregnant. And, of course, it forever changed my life.

I married my DD's father on Valentines Day and then delivered her the Friday before school started back for my senior year. Thankfully, I'd already doubled up on several classes and had planned to graduate early. I only needed one quarter to graduate so I missed the first quarter, completed the second and then went back at the end of the year to graduate with my class. (My daughter was 9 mos old and attended my HS graduation!) I was not able to go to college right away because we just could not afford it but I did eventually go. My first husband and I divorced after a little less than 4 years of marriage. We were so young and he was definitely not ready to be a husband OR a father. I remarried a year later and we soon added 2 more daughters to the mix. My husband and I will celebrate 19 years of marriage this September! We are very happy and I couldn't ask for anything more!

I've written all of this because my heart goes out to Mary. She has a really tough road ahead of her and she needs so much support and encouragement. I don't know what I would have done without the awesome support I received from my family. Teen pregnancy is so very hard. It is hard on the pregnant teen and it is hard on her family. When it happens, it seems like the worst thing in the world and people just don't know how to respond. They don't know whether to congratulate you or send you a sympathy card. ;o( It is definitely a life altering event but it does not have to be a terrible one. If the teen's parents and the rest of the family rally around her, she can definitely make it! 5, 10, 20 years from now, it can be a sweet and precious memory.....if everyone chooses to make it that way. She can't change the past but, with the help of her family, she can make the future a bright one, for her precious new baby and for herself.

My husband and son and I live in another state so we rarely see my husband's family and we want to keep it that way-- there's always a huge emotional/dysfunctional train wreck occurring with one parent or sibling or another and it's chronic....

If there is this much emotional baggage within the family, I would encourage you to send the clothes with a sweet encouragement note to Mary and leave it at that. Regardless of the circumstance, there is a precious little gift from God on the way. God does not make mistakes, people do. Mary needs to be forgiven and then let her get on with making a life for her new baby and herself. It is going to be difficult enough without the constant scrutiny from everyone else. I will pray for Mary, the baby and for healing within your family. May God bring you all closer together through this little miracle.

Blessings,

Scarlet<><

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Response to FolkVictorian July 9th, 2009
clipped on: 07.10.2009 at 03:27 pm    last updated on: 07.10.2009 at 03:28 pm