Thursday, May 15, 2014

Once Upon A Time...We Were Craigslist Scammed



Home for rent! Two bedroom/ 1 bath, 10 acre farm that comes with horses(pick your own), chickens, guineas, ducks, gees, dogs...! Wow. Could it get any better? Fruit orchard to pick at your choosing? After the initial phone call I was a little worried that her phone didn't work and I couldn't see pictures. Then she brought up that we would be sharing the property, animals, fruit orchard, AND we'd be living off-grid with a fully functional solar home. I was hooked. Plus, $800 rent for Hawaii sounds REALLY great. She sounded like a nice older woman....definitely NOT a scammer gone wild, crazy, and a bag of potato chips on the side! <<How'd you like my 90's tag?

We moved from Oahu to The Big Island of Hawai'i. We were ready to slow down our fast paced lives and trade for what we'd always wanted. Live on lots of acreage in our own little paradise. Adding on the off-grid and animals for perfection for these wannabe preppers. :)

FIRST RED FLAGS TO NOTE: We paid our deposit over PayPal and there was absolutely no way the landlord could show us photos of the property. Yes, we feel stupid now. Please take notes and share with all your friends!

Picture this:

We had only been on The Big Island now for a couple of hours. It's dark out and rain has started to pour. I hadn’t seen a rainstorm like this in a long time. After picking up a few things from Wal-Mart to get us through the next couple of weeks while waiting for the shipment of our things to be sent over from Oahu....'breathe'.... we headed toward our destination.

We pulled up toward the road we were directed to meet our new landlord on. The black truck we were supposed to see wasn't there. We decided to pull on into the jungle road. The storm outside made it hard to see anything in front of us. Finally we saw headlights. An old beat up black truck pulled up beside us and the driver rolled down their window. Steven, my husband, did the same. I got a good look at her and my heart almost stopped.

I'm not one to ever judge a person by their looks. For a split second though, I thought I saw Wanda Barzee. I had just finished reading Elizabeth Smart's book My Story and for just a split second I thought I was looking at her kidnapper. Not making light at all of that story I was honestly scared to death and wondering to myself if Barzee was in jail or not. I honestly looked up the information the next day to make sure. The resemblance is uncanny.

We followed her down the bumpy road and pulled into the farm. A de-shovelled cottage on my left and to my right a barn. I thought, "Okay. I can work with this little cottage. I'm a DIYer! I can really have fun with it." I got out of the car and gave our new landlord a hug and we did our greetings. She directed us into our new rental home.....the barn.

The Barn


I looked at Steven worried. A barn?! Not sure what to expect at all at this point we walked inside a filthy....and I mean FILTHY barn. There were make-shift walls put up to make up 'rooms'. I was instantly reminded of my homeless childhood in California. Cockroaches were scattering away from the light once she turned on the switch.

I went into my thumbs-up mode. I was smiling really big and saying over and over again, "This is great. Wow. I love it. So much potential! I love all the room. A barn...wow...room." I was trying to convince myself that this was fine. It was fine. For a while it was fine and I really got used to living in a barn infested with cockroaches, rats, mice, and ants. No matter how much I swept....it stayed dirty. The floors were cement painted over with three colors of peeling paint. Green....yellow....and orange.

It got even better the following days when she demanded we not spray or put any kind of poison out for any of the infestations. I wasn't allowed to use natural ways either because she had a reason for every infestation on the farm and her reason for why they helped. She let us know that this is just the way people live off-grid on farms. The carport was even better and infested with spiders. Over the next few months these spiders would infest the entire fruit orchard making it hard to walk any pathways without walking through spider webs....THICK spiderwebs. JUNGLE strong sticky spider webs WITH spiders all over each of them. I can't even count to this day how many spiders I've found crawling on me from walking a simple pathway through the orchard.

Did I mention that this woman, who claimed to be the 'owner' of the property btw, was a hoarder. A for real like you see on tv hoarder. The property was covered in junk. Old vehicles, a rusted RV covered in jungle vines, broken appliances, broken lawn mowers, everything was broken. The carport that is attached to the barn was full of garbage....it wasn't garbage to her. She put up a 7ft wall in our barn to stick her hoarded junk in and called it her storage room. The walls to this room were see through wicker. She could enter it from the outside and see through to us. She did this anytime she wanted. NO notice. Any hour of daylight and nighttime hours. Yep....it gets better.


Pictures of the Hoard. In this one she had blocked doors so we couldn't walk through our own home.



Part of the carport.



Part of the hoard.



An example of the 'walls' she put up. This is taken from the inside of her 'storage' room that was inside our home. You can see that she could easily see us through the wicker wall. 


 The inside of her storage room that was inside our home.


Speaking of no privacy!!! :)<<< Sarcastic smile! She would come into our house all throughout the day. Any excuse. She also claimed another room in the barn...the 'storage' room. It was also full of her stuff and also held the solar batteries and inverter. She had many excuses to go in there and look through stuff. She came in to the bathroom when I was showering one time. Yep....FANtastic. In the middle of the night she would go into the carport which is right by where she situated our bedrooms and just go through stuff, make noise, stare at us through our bedroom window. Yes, creepy. Ha ha ha She would have workers on the farm (that she'd work to death and then not pay them) that she'd have go into the room in our barn with no notice. One worker walked in on Steven while he was going to the bathroom to grab something. No knocking....always just walking in.

I'm going to make this long 7 month trial a shorter story. We found out she wasn't the owner and about her scam. Sadly, we weren't the first. Her dealio was to get the deposit and rent for a couple months then scare the families away and move in the next family. CRAZY!! The sad part of all of this is that the farm is owned by a sweet lady who got into a car accident and became handicapped physically and mentally because of it. When the crazy lady found out about the accident she squatted on the property and started her scam because, hey, the owners lived all the way on the mainland in Alabama. We were the first to find out who the owner was and get a hold of her family to let them know what was going on. The owners immediately gave Cruella (name we dubbed her for obvious reasons) the boot. Her eviction was all legal and took from December until May 8th (My 30th Birthday).

Her anger caused the following to happen. I'm still shocked we stuck it through.


  • In the middle of the night she would go into the carport and bang on things and shout out nonsense to wake us up. Too many nights. 3am....my poor kids. 
  • She stuck buckets of chicken manure under our windows to stink up our home.
  • She broke into our home with her boyfriend and stole our inverter.
It's hard to see the stolen inverter on the left and the snipped wires on the right.

  • She snipped our electric wires and stole our batteries that work our solar.
To the left were the batteries in 'her' storage room inside our barn and to the right after she stole them.
  • Because of our not having power for so long my husband missed many calls for his business....one thing lead to another and he lost a lot of money and his job. 
  • She was constantly shouting profanities at us and our kids.
  • She put rocks in the gas tank of our generator.
  • One of our dogs, a puppy at the time, was found down the road suspended in the cane grass. Could only have been done by a person.
  • Two months later this same dog disappeared no where to be found. Did I mention she let us know several times she hated our #&cking dog. Hmmm....
  • Her horses were not fenced and very 'green'. My kids were always in danger of being trampled and kicked.
  • All her animals that were listed in the add were not properly fenced or cared for. There was animal feces everywhere!
  • She threatened to trail a hot wire fence around the property to teach my boys a lesson. The lesson was to not have any interaction with any of her uncaged running wild animals. Kind of hard.
  • She stole many things: Propane tank, brooms, buckets, household supplies in general, yard tools. One time in particular I just happened to look out the window to witness her roam around our house, pick up a pickax and throw it in the bushes. 
  • She broke a painted sign I had worked on for hours and was pretty proud of into three pieces.
My family sign she broke. Sad day. :(
  • One day we came home to a propane smell in our home. She had taken parts off our propane fridge. It blew up in my husbands face. Could've been sooo much worse but he got the fire out quick.
  • She was constantly harassing my kids. One day she physically fought my older son over an avacado he found. She put her body over him and wrestled him over it. I FLIPPED!!! Imagine Mama Bear mixed with Black Widow and you can imagine why she literally ran away from me. I didn't know I had it in me! Ha ha
  • She would pick the fruit trees dry so that we wouldn't be able to get to the fruit and then hide them in buckets around the property to rot and go to waste.
One of the buckets of rotting fruit.
  • She grabbed fruit from my younger boy that he had picked. She tore the basket of fruit from his hands and dumped it in her own bucket. Swearing profanities at he and his brother in the process.
  • She would sneak into her 'storage room' in our home and sit there without us knowing for who knows how long just spying on us and listening to our conversations. This happened only three times that I KNOW of and caught her. 
  • She chased my boys screaming at the top of her lungs that they had touched something that was hers. She also did this to their friends, who are two sweet girls that live next door and have become their best friends. It's scary to be chased by someone that's angry; but can you imagine being a kid being chased by Cruella Deville?!! Scary stuff.
  • She would walk around her own home, the cottage, at night to make her dogs bark. All. Night. Long.
  • She would flash my husband, myself, and our boys too many times to count over these months.
  • She brought friends on the property to harass us.
  • She put rotten pig meat next to our bedroom window to stink us out. Steven had to take care of it.
  • Her dog (one of 6) died under the RV, which happened to be parked next to our barn-home, and she left the carcass there to bloat and become infested with magets and stink up the entire property. Another thing we took care of ourselves.
  • We came home one day to our water not working. We had heard that she would take away pipes, propane tanks, gas, anything to scare people to leave. We had pipes stolen this time.
  • She drained our water catchment more times than I can count over the night with a hose.
It's hard to tell here but this picture was for court. These are stills from a video of her actively draining our water down a hill for the third time.
  • She took a machete knife to the bottom of the lining of our water catchment tank the day before she left and it drained the entire tank. Living off-grid with no water pump (no flushing toilet, shower, NO RUNNING WATER FOR MONTHS)...that water was our life for all those months.
  • We did get Restraining Orders against her and her boyfriend. Neither of them obeyed the court orders. 
  • One last thing I can think of; I can't count how many times I was told to go EFF myself. Her famous words.

FINALLY she was booted. She didn't leave without a fight. It was the worst months of our lives. There's even more I could add and will think of tomorrow after I post this but this was extremely exhausting to write in the first place. I usually don't write negative things but I felt it was important to get our story out there to be a warning to others. We are now cleaning up the property and renting from the owners with intent to buy the property.

Most people wonder why in the world we didn't leave. We truly felt like we were sent to this property to stay. Without all the garbage and infestations (which we've taken care of since she left) it's a beautiful peace of paradise. It's perfect for our kind of living. A little homestead that we can learn to live self sufficiently on. Oh we learned to live this way not having a choice! It's been so peaceful since she left and my husband and I are having too much fun fixing things up.

I hope this post will help to spread a warning to all those who shop on craigslist for home rentals or look to buy. Do your research and don't be a dummy like us and miss all the first red flags. Learn from our mistake and skip over any harm or accident. Please share this so it will go viral to be a warning to all about scammers. I'm pretty sure we are the worst I've heard about. Ha ha ha!

I hope everyone has a great day and counts their blessings after reading this! We definitely do. :)

Heather






Wednesday, January 15, 2014

DIY Party Favor Poppers


Here's a fun idea for your next bash!
The next time you're thinking about doing goody bags or party favors you have to try these! Plus it's a lot more fun when there's popping involved.....packing bubbles, balloons, gum!!!
Once again here is a quick and simple tutorial that even the kiddos can help with.
First Step: Drive, walk, or skip on down to Wal-Mart (where I got mine) to get some fun Push-Up Cake Poppers. They should be in the party section.
Step 2: Go crazy grabbing fun stuff that'll fit inside the tubes for your event. Don't forget the confetti!!
Step 3: Check out.
Step 4: Go home.
Step 5: Once inside rip open the fun and start stuffing the push pops.
Step 6: Throw a PARTY AND HAVE FUN!
I hope you enjoyed my DIY and humor. Check out my blog for other fun DIYs.
Heather
Where I linked up this fun DIY. Thanks to the following for hosting! :)
Crafting Along Link Party 
Share It Saturday! 
Saturday Spotlight @ Classy Clutter
Serenity Saturday @ SerenityYou
Craft, Create, & Inspire Linky Party @ Live Love Create

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Boy Finds!


My son, Jamison, found something fun today. :} Some of my costume eyelashes made of feathers! Never a dull moment in Harrisville. Have you followed me on Pinterest? > I love making new friends over here >https://www.pinterest.com/heatherlehto

Copyright Heather Lehto Harris of The Pink Lab

Friday, November 22, 2013

Hulk Coconut

Last night while moving horses to another pasture I tripped over this monster. It's been dubbed the Hulk coconut. Can't wait to open this beauty.  Pictured next to a regular sized coconut. Haha

P.S. I know I'm neglecting blogger and moved to the Facebook page and Instagram for all my updates but I'm going to start sharing it all on my blog, too. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Help Typhoon Haiyan Victims ~ DONATE




The Pink Lab has set up a PayPal Donation button to help victims of the Typhoon in the Philippines. More than half of the 42,000 followers of The Pink Lab are Filipino, and they certainly have a special place in my heart. These followers always offer love and support to The Pink Lab. My boys were also tutored by a close friend who currently resides in the Philippines with her husband and new baby. It's time to give back!

All donations will be promptly sent to one of our representatives on the ground in the Philippines and immediately used to buy food, water, medical supplies, and other necessities that are of most need at this time. Reciepts and items will be photographed and posted on The Pink Lab for legitimacy reasons and you'll be able to follow the progress your donations make possible. 

By clicking the donate button below, you will be taken to the PayPal payment page where you'll be able to send much needed support in any amount you choose. Thank you so much for your help!


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

8 Lessons I Learned After Writing My First Book

I've wanted to write books since I was in the 4th grade. My 4th grade year of school I was one of those students chosen to go to those writing events for kids. My grandma went with me and encouraged me to meet one of the authors doing a signing. I was still pretty shy in unfamiliar territory, but I'm glad she pushed me into doing it. I did not expect who I met.

Another girl only a couple years older than I was at the time! She was blonde, quiet, wrote a children's book, and was signing and meeting the other kids. Sadly I don't remember much conversation with her. The only thing that really stuck with me was a thought I had "If she can do it...maybe I can, too." It was the first time I'd realized that I could accomplish things starting at a young age and did not need to wait for age to grace me to accomplish my goals.

And here I am too many years later writing a blog post about the first ever book I wrote(and published). I guess that is a good lead into the first thing I learned.



1. Don't wait! I promise you'll regret it. 
          Life has always been busy. When life wasn't busy it has been filled with sickness or stress. On top of that I felt extremely inadequate to write. I knew I was creative and could write pieces that you might even call good, but I felt that because I had a hard time soaking things up in highschool because it was about survival for my mind and not learning, that my grammar and vocabulary was just not stretched like everyone else my age. You can see in my blog posts I'm already an extremely lazy writer! ;) I remember nothing from what I learned from my brilliant English teacher in 7th and 8th grade, sadly. It's just how my brain works. Alright....to the point! ;)
          Life will always be busy. Something will always come up. You may feel inadequate or maybe you've even been told  you're just not smart enough ( << I was told this). But, you have to make the time. Shut out all those voices in your head that are telling you you're not smart enough or good enough to write something people will want to read. 
          After my book was published onto Amazon Kindle and started selling I truly regretted that I hadn't started sooner. I know I'm not the only author that wishes they would've written sooner in life. I also know of amazing writers who've never published a thing and have told me to my face they regret it. So start right now! Get a brainstorm going and work on it each day until you're done.

2. Choose your editors wisely.
         I definitely recommend knowing without a doubt that your editor isn't going to stab you in the back, show signs of jealousy, or take your voice out of your work. With anything even in the realm of 'big' happening in your life you're going to see sides of people you never knew existed. I'd heard of this, read about it, been warned even! It definitely is true that if you are going to be successful in any area of your life...you will learn who your true friends are. That is why I recommend more than one editor. 

3. Keep positive people in the know.
          When I started writing I had amazing support not only from my husband but from my MIL and FIL. They are so wonderful and have always encouraged me in my goals. It helped a lot! I also had one person constantly dragging me down, putting me down, saying cruel things (not me being sensitive here...truly cruel mean things) about my book, and one final kick to the face saying "Don't send me your book as a gift...it's not like anyone's going to buy it." RUDE!!! Trust me they got kicked to the curb fast after that. I do not keep negative people in my life anymore. I've learned I get a lot more accomplished without complainers or natural pessimists. Take my advice and keep people who are only going to lift you up and encourage you around when you are working on your writing. 

4. Toughen up!
          I learned quick that when you are a part of a social network of any kind, especially amazon, that you need to tough out the criticism! No matter how bad or good you are, how good of a person, how good your intentions there will always be someone wanting to give you a negative review. If you have enemies I suggest armor at this point. People will tell you if you're an amateur (no effing kidding?!!), they'll tell you how you should have written your book, what you shouldn't have done. Heaven forbid you act confident because apparently that is bragging to the negative nancy's. If you're not confident they'll tell you, too. If you don't have images they'll want images. If you do have images they'll tell you they wish your images didn't suck. The one thing you'll never hear is that none of these people have ever put themselves out there like you did and actually write something...anything. You'll also get really great criticism! Use it. Try to update your book or use the criticism for your next project. It's all a learning experience. You can't be so thick headed that you honestly think everyone else is wrong and you're absolutely perfect in every way. So toughen up before you publish! :) And...I hope I didn't offend anyone. ;)

5. Don't expect people to go out of their way for you.
          Every writer knows its important to not only have emotional support but actually having people go onto a website to give you a good review just because you hope they love you....well, I learned its asking a bit much. haha Of course, you'll get those first few family members and close confidants to get on and give you a rave review and you'll feel great! But...when you start asking friends to give you reviews don't expect a huge response to action. It hurts. But it's another way I found who really are my supporters. The people who take five minutes to sit down at a computer to help you get a better star rating on your project and say a few good things about it....keep them close. You'll find most people just don't have the time. That's okay! Try not to get too offended. Need armor for this part, too. I learned something in this lesson, that just because I'm extremely loyal and willing to cross oceans for other people....DEFINITELY doesn't mean they'll do the same for me. That hurts, too. But it's just part of life. Heck I even asked a friend personally to give me a good review, and they responded "You want me to lie?"........ It's a good lesson. If you don't expect too much from people it's easier to shrug things off. That doesn't mean you need to stop caring so much or going out of your way for other people...if that is your personality (like mine) don't lose it! I've found once again with this attitude I get more accomplished. And karma.....well, you know. 

6. Leave it alone.
          It's sooo hard to not constantly check on your book to see how it's doing and if you're getting good or bad or ANY reviews. I'll tell you right now don't start that OCD! Move onto other things. Keep busy. Maybe if you can't help yourself check once...twice a day at first. You're going to go insane if you obsess over it and keep checking it around the clock. (not personal experience or anything!! ;))

7. Start your next project right away.
          This kind of goes with number 6. It helps a lot to start a new project right away. If you're going to write....WRITE! It'll keep you busy, and you'll be using your time wisely and definitely not regretting that you wasted time.

8. Learn from the past.
          I saved this for last. The reason I wrote my first book was for this lesson exactly. I wanted to gain experience. I wanted to learn the ropes of publishing, selling, advertising, and what comes next. Obviously I learned even more than that! I did rush my first book. I'm ashamed to say I didn't expect it to sell...because I was using it as a lesson. I wrote and published it in three weeks. I've learned so much! Now I'm onto more serious work with a little experience gained, a new support group, and a tough piece of armor to go with it.

Whelp! I hope you enjoyed this article and can learn from my lessons before you start your first book or project whatever it may be. Good luck! 


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Eye Of Newt Dip


This dip is perfect for that Halloween party you're planning or going to. At first glance you might think this is your ordinary black bean dip, black bean and corn salsa, or cowboy caviar. It's not....exactly. I came up with my own recipe that gives attention to color to easily blend into any Halloween event. I also took away an ingredient that one of the three I mentioned above uses. I don't use tomatoes in my recipe because it keeps the dip from becoming too soupy. It will keep for a couple more days in the fridge! 


Eye Of Newt Dip

2 cans of sweet corn (drained and rinsed)
2 cans of black beans (drained and rinsed)
2 orange bell peppers
1 medium onion of your choice
1 big bushel of fresh cilantro
1 packet of zesty Italian dressing (made up as instructed on packet)
For the dressing you'll need oil, vinegar, and water.
I use this specific dressing packet below.


I chop up my pepper, onion, and cilantro to about the size of the individual pieces of corn and beans. I mix up my veggies and dressing in separate bowls first. After I add the dressing to the mix I give it a good toss so that everything is covered and flavored. I often leave a big spoon in my dip bowl to continue to toss the dip occasionally because the dressing does settle at the bottom of the dip bowl after a while. Once it's tossed back up it's as good as new. 

When I make this fun dip for Halloween I buy black corn chips to add to the fun of using the Halloween theme colors. Or are they dried bat wings??? ;)






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