Thursday, April 11, 2013

Wow, Really? How the month of March passed me by...

In the past, when I've attempted to get into blogging, this is about the time that I would give up. I've got about a dozen posts in the can and a month long hiatus. But I will. not. let. this. die! Especially because I have so much content in my head that I WANT to write about. I think my downfall is the lack of time.

Anyway, so much for March . . . let's celebrate APRIL (Sure, we are already 1/3 of the way through but....better late than never!)


But first, how about a quick round of March?

In March we . . .

- Made progress on buying our house! A VA appraisal took place and the house was valued over our loan amount which is amazing! I heard on the radio this morning that home values went up 5% last month in San Diego so this may have contributed to the high appraisal. Apparently the average home price in the County is $430K . . . ours is slightly higher than that but I do wish that we lived in areas where homes were priced in the $100Ks! When I watch House Hunters and people say their budget is $120K I shake my fist in jealousy. But I wouldn't want to live anywhere that has snow . . . so I guess that's part of the trade off!

Other things that happened with regard to the house: general inspection (everything looks great), pest inspection, loan approval, lots of paperwork and signatures. We have our closing date now . . . the home is ours as of April 30 at 5 p.m.! I'm so excited!

- Flew to the Big Island of Hawai'i for a four-day whirlwind weekend for my brother's wedding. It was beautiful and relaxing and so much more than I expected. I wish we had more time to spend there but the few days that we had were perfect. One of the highlights was the villa that we stayed at - which was gorgeous. It had an outdoor shower and I took every opportunity to shower out there (it was very private - no chance of anyone seeing me in my birthday suit. :-) But probably what I loved most - aside from sharing in the love of happiness of the beautiful marriage - was remembering my own wedding to my husband. We had a great time dancing together at the reception - it brought back so many wonderful memories for us. I love weddings!

As for my goals in March - I guess I'd say I did OK. Not great . . . but okay. Could have drank more water . . . could have been more sweet and loving to my hubby in general . . . could have been better at spending. I feel like I got derailed about mid-month and never got back on track. I unexpectedly got a flat tire and had to spend $100 on a new one (it was too damaged to fix).I spent way too much on eating out and convenience foods at work. I also spent too much on groceries.

But I already feel really great about April. My spending feels very controlled and I am thinking outside of the box for new solutions to problems that previously I would have just thrown money at.

-Keep the TV off in the mornings before work and bring peacefulness back into my routine. We'll be canceling cable when we move and I'm actually looking forward to it.
-Read more
-Blog more
-Minimize spending on breakfast and lunch foods during the work week.
-Make it through the month without touching my credit cards.
-File our taxes.
-Romance my husband.
-Begin decluttering and minimizing unneeded and unwanted items in our apartment in anticipation of our move.
-Begin preparing for moving into our new house: successfully close escrow, select a move date, hire movers, schedule estimates for flooring, purchase appliances, switch over utilities, etc., etc., etc. Oh there is so much to do!!

If there is anyone out there actually reading, thank you for sticking with me!

Friday, March 1, 2013

March Goals



Yay for March! So many good things are happening this month.  Good things like . . . my brother is getting married!  In Hawaii! And the whole family is going! Whoot!

Also . . . as of today, my car is paid OFF!  I'm so excited not to be living with a car payment anymore. Buying my car was probably one of the dumbest things I ever did. I didn't "need" a car and I certainly couldn't really afford the $507/mo payment. Further more, at the time (2007) that I bought my car I had terrible credit so my interest rate was sky high. I definitely paid my share of stupid tax on this car. But now it's ALL mine.

Beginning next month, I'll be dividing that payment between paying off additional consumer debt and savings.


And now for my goals for March:

1. Clean out my pantry and take inventory of what we have. "Shop" the pantry and meal plan around it prior to going to the grocery store.

2. Romance my husband - continue to be sweet, flirty, thoughtful and positive with him.

3. Drink more water.

4. Be patient and positive about the home buying process.

5. Finish "Game of Thrones" book 4 - I'm 55% of the way through right now.

6. Succeed with my March no/low spending challenge

What about you - what's on your list for this month? 

Thursday, February 28, 2013

February Goals Update and Recap


I feel like February just went by so fast but, at the same time, I also feel like the beginning of February was so long ago!  It feels like more than just 28 days since I made my list of goals for the month.

Looking back, I did so-so. I think it would have helped if I had reminded myself weekly what my goals were so I could really stay accountable. Next month I'm going to set reminders to pop up on my calendar!

1. Bake sugar cookies. Yes!  I used this recipe from and they turned out really yummy. I baked so many that I had enough to share with my co-workers.

2. Drink more water. Meh. I started strong on this in February but lost momentum as the month went on. Definitely need to focus on this again in March!

3. Stick to my budget. I did pretty good . . . but there is definitely room for improvement. I went over budget on groceries, gas, and dining/eating out however I'm going to cut myself some slack in the grocery and gas department. I really think that I underestimated how much I should be budgeting for groceries and decided moving forward to bump it up $100. As for gas, I filled up the same number of times as January (four times - approximately once a week) and yet I spent $35 more - about $8.75 more per fill-up. Some of that is likely due to rising fuel costs. The average in my town is now $4.45/gal!

I also did great in that I remained committed to not buying any "fluff" purchases in February aside as planned for Valentine's Day and Hubby's birthday.

4. Have patience with the home buying process. Heck no. I have NOT been patient. In fact, at times I've felt down right negative about it. This month we put in two offers, both of which were rejected. We also considered putting in another offer in on a house only to find out it has foundation issues. Gah. This is definitely much more of an emotional process that I had anticipated!

5. Organize/declutter. Eh. I did organize my daughter's dresser drawers but never made it into my closet to do anything. Definitely on my to-do list for March.

6. Romance my husband. Again, I started strong this month but fell off toward the end. I have to even admit that we had a bit of a heated discussion last week and it reminded me of why it's so important that I let my husband know how much I do appreciate him.

Overall?  I give February a 7.5 out of 10.  Did you stick to your February goals? How did you do!?

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Oh, How Pinteresting: Master Bedrooms

The update on the house hunt as of today is that there is no update. We put in another offer over the weekend but the house received a total of 11 offers and obviously we weren't selected. It's a little discouraging to say the least. A the moment, there is nothing on the market in our price range that looks at all appealing. Are we destined to live in our tiny apartment forever? I know the answer is no . . .  but sometimes it feels that way!

On Pinterest, I've been pinning a lot of master bedrooms. One of my goals is to make our bedroom a serene and beautiful place to be.  Right now it's a collection of old/cheap furniture and old linens that don't really match. Our mattress is actually on the floor (no frame). We want to upgrade our bed from a queen to a CA king and buy a brand new bed frame/head board, dresser, night stands, etc. but it doesn't make sense to do that until we buy a house and move in. So, in the meantime, I've been drooling over these gorgeous, cozy rooms:

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Love the florals and white but it's probably too girly for our master . . . maybe our guest room?
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This one, despite having some floral accents, feels more masculine. I like the dark, tufted headboard and dark linens with green walls.
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This room also feels like it has a good balance of feminine and masculine with the light grey and blue. I also love the small sofa at the foot of the bed. I decided I definitely need some seating like that in our room!
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What I love about this room is the desk/night stand combo. This seems like a great use of space! And I also love the bench.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Happies and Crappies: Update Post!

I've fallen a bit behind in posting this month.  I thought that I'd do a bulleted list to update on everything that's been going on but then I stumbled upon this blogger and her "Happies and Crappies" link up and thought it was the perfect solution!


  • Hubby and I had a great time celebrating his birthday this month. We drove up to Irvine to see friends - it's so awesome to get our families together and watch our kids play!  We stayed the night in a hotel and had a great breakfast at Pipe's Cafe in San Clemente. One of Hubs' favorite spots. I bought him a new pair of Hurley board shorts that he was  super pleased with!
  • Valentine's Day was low-key but nice. I bought Hubs a coffee to-go mug and personalized it with a photo of our daughter. We bought a Keurig coffee maker last December and now he can take his hot beverages to go!
  • Hubs totally surprised me with a Kindle Fire! I already had a Kindle - one of the much cheaper versions. I've been wanting a tablet but couldn't afford an iPad. This was so sweet of him to splurge on for me!
  • I went to a conference for work that involved being out of town for 36 hours. This was the first time I ever left my daughter over night and I was dreading it. Fortunately, her time with daddy was a success. Hubby even texted me, "this is a two person job!" which I had to laugh at. Yes, yes it is my dear . . . and yet as mothers we tend to (almost) do it all!
  • Last Saturday we put an offer in on a house that was rejected. It was a beautiful house and so "perfect" inside. It's a major bummer.
  • We received major sticker shock on what we owe in taxes this year. Holy crap! We need to figure out how to prevent this from happening next year!
  • And now money that I was hoping to save for other purposes is going to pay our taxes. This almost makes me want to become a Republican! No more taxes! Sheesh! I'm not made of money here, people!
  • Our realtor is out of the country and hasn't been able to confirm if his back-up realtor friend will be able to show us any homes this weekend.
  • I'm feeling very unproductive at work. I need to make things happen.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Super Mom - Yup, that's me!


I was going to post about Valentine's Day but I just have to share my morning - hoping that other moms can commiserate!
My daughter has been sitting in a rear-facing car seat since she was born but last weekend we realized she had surpassed the weight-limit for that configuration by five pounds. So my hubby went out and switched the seat around so that now she sits forward-facing.
I have to admit I like it this way so much more! I can see her face, what she's doing . . .  and I can hand things to her (sippy cup, snacks, books/toys that drops) so much easier from the driver's seat. However, an unfortunate side-effect is that she's been getting car sick!
This morning on the way to work/daycare (I'm lucky that her daycare is located at my work - makes it SO easy!) we were just five minutes away when I looked back and I saw that she looked a little funny. I thought at first that she was getting drowsy since she was up early (5:15 a.m.) and sometimes she'll fall asleep on the ride.
I pulled into the parking lot, got her out of her seat, turned away to grab some items in the front passenger seat . . . and then I heard it. She was puking! Poor baby! Another mother headed back to her car even screeched, "Oh, she's throwing up!!" Yeah, thanks, lady, I hadn't noticed!! 
Luckily the majority of it landed on her shoes or the asphalt and I was able to clean her up really fast.
So here's where the Mom of the Year Award comes in . . . once she was cleaned up I took her into daycare anyway!  Although the center has a policy where children can't come to school if they have thrown up in the last 24 hours, I felt pretty certain that she wasn't suffering from a contagious  flu bug or virus.
However I still felt so, so guilty . . . Another moment when I wished I didn't work full-time even though there are a plethora of reasons that I choose to work and do so joyfully.
Luckily, when I checked on her via the web cam (so awesome, I LOVE that I can have the web cam running in the background all day while I work) it appeared that she was doing just fine - eating breakfast and then (just now) hanging off some play equipment.
I think I need to look into ways to prevent car sickness in the future . . . perhaps moving the seat into the center of the back seat would help . . . keeping the air cooler . . . offering her more water.  Any moms out there have tips for combatting car sickness? And can does anyone care to share some Mom of the Year moments to help me feel a little better? Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Going Green: Make-Up


I think one thing that I would love to change about myself is that I have bad habits when it comes to being "green" or environmentally conscious. I want to recycle more, bring my own shopping bags to the store, cut down on plastic waste, stop using chemicals to clean with and start using "green" make-up.
Now I have to admit that my make-up routine has DRASTICALLY changed since becoming a mom. While I work in a professional environment and feel that some make-up is still necessary, I don't spend nearly the same amount of time on it that I did before my daughter was born.  Okay, I will be honest. Most days my face "routine" involves slathering on some lotion with SPF and a couple coats of mascara.
I'm a drugstore make-up kind of girl.  I used to be MAC loyal to the core but these days it's too spendy for my blood. I was happily using CoverGirl's LashBlastFushion but when I ran low I decided to try Physicians Formula Organic Wear mascara which claims to be 100 percent natural.
I've worn it all week and would give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.  I really like the wand - it seems to apply the mascara evenly while separating/lengthening each lash. The mascara itself is a good consistency - not too thick or clumpy.  The only problem I've found is that it smudges like crazy.  I don't know if I have particularly oily skin or what but I have never had this much of a smudging issue before.
I'll think I'll finish out the tube but definitely try some other brands - I think Almay has an organic/natural mascara as well.
Have you tried "green" make-up?  Any brands that are worth trying? 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Oh, how Pinteresting!

A quick house hunt update:

Last night we toured another house (tour #4). It went on the market Monday and the sellers are going to review offers tonight. By the time we saw it, they had already received two offers - crazy!  Because of the tight deadline we had to go view it last night after work.

Hubby and I were actually really excited about it. The 3 bed/2.5 bath 1650 sq. ft. townhouse is located in our number one choice neighborhood/city. Coastal with easy freeway access AND just a block from our best friends’ home! Great schools . . . a park just a five minute walk away!

But sometimes it’s not good enough to have the “location, location, location.” The home was previously owned by an elderly person who actually passed away of natural causes there. That fact didn’t bother me, surprisingly. What did bother me was that the place hadn’t been updated since the 1980s. It needed major TLC from the floors to the windows to the kitchen counters/appliances. And the lighting! Oh man, major issues with the awful lighting fixtures through out.

This is one reason why online photos of homes are not to be trusted!  Photographers are very good at adjusting the lighting, adding a soft glow, or cropping out the "ugly" to make everything appear so lovely.

Unfortunately we decided to walk away from the house even though we both died a little bit on the inside. Certainly if we had an extra $50K or if we were the roll-up-our-sleeves-and-get-in-there DIY types it would have been wonderful but neither of us were willing to do the work required to get it up to our standards.


Anyway, on that note:

This week I've been pinning a lot of home decor . . . dreaming of that perfect house I could have if money were no object:
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I just realized that I had this bathroom pinned twice - so I guess I really like it!  I love the crisp colors (black and white on gray with a pop of green) and the use of shelving over the toilet - a good use of space for a small powder room or guest bathroom.
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And this was another one that I accidentally pinned twice! I love just about everything this kitchen has to offer from the white cabinets to the slate gray counters to the aqua subway tile and pops of mustard yellow in the rug. That's what I love about using Pinterest for decorating inspiration - I would never think to combine those colors but it totally works!
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Here's another kitchen I adore. I guess you might say this is a mix of country chic with pops of more industrial pieces (like the stool in the foreground and the lighting). This is definitely my style but the Hubs would hate this. Too much going on for him - he would prefer something more sleek and modern.
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Oh man, I love this space. So bright and cheerful! A perfect place to sit down to pay a bill or two or write a thank you letter.  Those curtains, that rug, that chair! Love it all.
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I love that wash basin! The white/gray theme is so clean and refreshing.
It's fun to dream, right?! If only buying and decorating a house was as easy as pinning!
Happy Wednesday!

Monday, February 4, 2013

First home offer: rejected

This weekend our fledgling house hunt reached a milestone: we made our first official offer and we received our first official rejection.

Looks like I will have to wait a little longer before I can tie on my apron and get cooking in a kitchen that is all my own.  By the way, this kitchen looks eerily similar to the one that my mom had back in the 1980s, down to the yellow oven, counter tops and fridge! The only difference was that our wall paper was white with yellow flowers.

Offer Number One went to a 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath townhouse in a great location. Even better was the price - nearly $40K below our lowest budget! We never thought we would find something "move-in ready" in that price range. There were SOME compromises: the patio was small and not very private. The square footage was only 1,450. The kitchen and bathrooms were basic and no "frills." But it had a lot that we DID like: hardwood floors on the bottom, a spacious bottom floor floor-plan, a playground and swimming pool just half a block away . . . and yes, the price was so amazing.  But apparently others thoughts so too.

The house was listed on Friday. By the time we viewed it on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. it had already received two offers. We decided to make an offer and went slightly above asking to be competitive. On Sunday we found out the townhouse went to someone who had $250K in cash and made a much large offer.

I guess it wasn't meant to be. We'll continue to look although as of today there is nothing on the market that looks at all like something I'd want to tour much less live in.  Hopefully more houses will become available as the year continues to unfold.  Ideally, we'd like to move by June when our apartment lease is up.  It's either that or go month-to-month starting in July and face a heft monthly penalty for not signing another lease.

We've heard that this is a process and we should be prepared to tour dozens of homes and make a handful if not dozens of offers. 

I'm really curious - do you remember how many homes you toured when you were house hunting? How many offers did you make before an offer was actually accepted?


Friday, February 1, 2013

Hello February!


I love January (it's my birthday month!) but I'm always sort of relieved when it's over and the year starts to really get going. After the holiday excitement and time-off in December, January just seems to be long and sort of boring. I'm looking forward to spring and summer (warm weather, picnics at the beach/park, cold beers, etc.) and February is a step in the right direction.
I do really well when I have lists and goals so I'm going to do that with my blog. I also have a 43things account for keeping track of my goals - if you are interested it is here. And yes, my nickname in real life (with some people anyway) is Margie May. I guess you can know that. (I'm still trying to figure out that balance of what to share or not share on the Internet. . . . any other bloggers have thoughts on that that you'd like to share? Just curious...).
So, back to February goals.  Here they are:
(Thank you to My Pretty Pennies for hosting - I am a long time reader of her blog, I love it.)

1. Bake and frost sugar cookies. This is something I've been wanting to do for a long time. I have these really lovely memories of the Christmas sugar cookies my grandmother used to make. They were something my entire family looked forward to each year. She passed away when I was in college but I often have thought that I'd like to try to become the resident sugar cookie expert in our family. Furthermore, for Christmas I received a package of Martha Stewart cookie cutters that represent every major holiday (I tried to find a picture online but Google failed me!). Yesterday I went online and found a recipe because I don't know what became of my grandma's recipe (sad face) and I watched a video on YouTube on how to frost with a paint brush. So now I just need to buy a few baking supplies and I'll be ready to go! 
2. Drink more water. This week I started bringing sliced lemon for my water cup at work and I've noticed that I drink so much more now.  I'd like to keep this up!
3. Stick to my budget. This means that I'll be on a very strict no/low spending challenge for the month. Luckily I am building off excellent momentum from January so I feel that this is going to be EASY. Yeah!
4. Have patience with the home buying process. I'm starting to feel frustrated because there aren't a lot of homes in our price range that I like . . . and those that I do love (at least online from what I can tell via photos and descriptions) are getting snapped up in days before we have a chance to even get out there and look at them. I know that I just need to have patience and the right home will come at the right time. It's just harder to practice that patience in reality. :(
5. Organize and declutter. I'm getting the bug to spring clean. And if we are going to move in a few months I might as well start thinking about getting things in order. My goal will be to organize/clean-out my closet and dresser drawers and my daughters'.
6. Romance my husband. It the month of love and his birthday month so this is a natural fit . . . but I've been consciously working on "romancing" him for about a week now.  By "romance" I just mean doing those little things that let him know how much I love and value him. I want to be more mindful of the looks I give, the words I use and the actions I make. We have very busy lives and often my attention is directed toward our 17-month-old daughter. I just don't want to look back 10 years from now and wonder what happened to our marriage. I want our connection to stay strong and that starts with me.
So, those are my goals for the month . . . what are yours?! 

Thursday, January 31, 2013

January Book Review


I really admire those who can plow through multiple books in a month.  Some of my favorite bloggers like Princess Nebraska read crazy amounts of books! I'm so impressed!

These days I try to get a little reading in before bed . .  . but what often happens is that I read for a page or two and get so tired I can't go on!  I love to read, I really do, but it's a very slow process for me. That's why I've made it my goal to try and just read 20 books in 2013.  For me, that will be a stretch!

This month I did complete one book: The Happiest Toddler on the Block by Harvey Karp

The Happiest Toddler on the Block: How to Eliminate Tantrums and Raise a Patient, Respectful and Cooperative One- to Four-Year-Old: Revised Edition

This is the thing about parenting books: as a first-time mom, I can't help myself.  I devour them.  I like to feel as informed as possible about things I don't know much about and as a first-time parent with very little baby experience (never baby-sat tiny kids, I was the youngest in my family and my extended family), I really needed to feel more confident about what to "expect" if you will.

But the problem is that after my daughter was born, I became really frustrated when so few of the methods or expertise really worked. 

When my daughter was first born she was such a howler. I just remember hours and hours and hours of crying.  And she resisted all methods of sleep-training.  I was one strung-out, exhausted momma.  I later realized that I had to let all of the "expert advice" go and parent the child I had - not the perfect textbook child written about in all of these self-help parenting books.

The only books that I really found any value in was The Happiest Baby on the Block (also by Harvey Karp) and The Baby Book by William Sears. That's why I decided to delve back into the genre again with The Happiest Toddler now that my 17-month-old is starting to act a lot like a sassy 17-year-old.

In his book, a lot of Karp's advice made sense and aligned with what we already try to do to prevent tantrums in the first place (keeping our daughter well fed with frequent small meals . . . ensuring she is well-rested or that we can accommodate her need for rest when we are out and about. . . frequent "time-ins" with mom and dad) but I think what really appealed to me the most was everything he wrote having to do with parents playing the "ambassador" role and how to better communicate so that the toddler feels heard and understood. I realized that I tend to talk/reason with my daughter as if she is much older. I've started using "toddlerese" and getting down on her level, particularly when there is a melt down happening and she has actually stopped in her tracks! However, I have to admit that I feel like a goon using it in public.

Other things I've tried and had good results with are his techniques having to do with patience stretching and kind ignoring (at first I wasn't really sure about it and still I use it only very sparingly).

I really like that Karp takes a positive, confidence building approach to parenting toddlers and I'm appreciative that he acknowledges just how hard it is to be a modern parent. . . but I have to say that I’m doubtful about time-outs as discipline, particularly at this stage in my daughter's development. However, I'm willing to consider it as an option when she's slightly older.

Overall, I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Have you read any good parenting books recently?  Any that you'd recommend to me? 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Oh, How Pinteresting!

I thought I would start participating in "Oh, How Pinteresting" Wednesdays.  I love to browse Pinterest - mostly from my phone - during those occasional down moments. Here are some of my favorite pins this week with an organization theme because I'm really feeling the need to get organized and spring clean!
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I just reorganized my husband's t-shirt drawer using this method and I keep my daughter's drawers organized this way too.  It's amazing how much more efficient and organized it is to store clothes this way!
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I give my daughter baths in my bathroom so whenever I shower I'm dodging rubber ducks and plastic water toys.  This would be a great way to store the toys when not in use!
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Easy Change Art Work Frames would be an easy and relatively inexpensive way of displaying and storing my daughter's artwork!  Currently all of her art is stacked in a reusable shopping bag hanging on corner of a chair in my dining room.  It's not exactly working for me.
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This is my end goal and organization mission statement.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

House Hunting - What I've learned so far...


Yesterday we received wonderful news: Hubby and I are pre-approved to purchase our first home!  Hopefully it will be at least slightly larger than this charming garden cottage!

This is very exciting as it's something I have dreamed of for many years but wondered if it would ever be a reality for a variety of reasons including: the high cost of housing in San Diego and my credit-worthiness (I spent my early twenties wrecking absolute havoc on my credit. As a result I have spent the better part of my mid to late twenties and early thirties doing major damage control.

Late last year the hubs and I started really thinking about this and decided it was a step we were ready to make. During the months of November and December we drove around the neighborhoods we'd like to purchase in, visited open houses and toured "new construction" models.

In fact we found a model townhome that we really liked. We decided to apply for lender financing through the builder's mortgage company and were approved. And then things took a turn . . . we found out that because we did not have a realtor representing us when we first toured the property that we couldn't have anyone represent us through the negotiation and paperwork signing process. We learned that the builder was REALLY SHADY about not wanting to tell us up front how much flooring and other upgrades were. In fact, we wouldn't find out any of that until after we signed our purchase agreement and handed over our earnest money (earnest money is a deposit that the buyer provides to the seller which says, "hey, I'm really serious about this and this cash proves it). In the end, it started to feel wrong. We were getting pressured to come in and sign and we wanted to have more time to review documents and figure out exactly how much the townhome would cost us. In the end, it just didn't feel right anymore and we backed out.  

Subsequently, we decided we really needed a professional to help us. Luckily, one of our close couple friends bought a house last summer. They used a realtor another couple friend of ours used.  So we asked them for the referral and met the agent over coffee to discuss our needs.  It seemed like a good fit so we are now working with him.  It's nice to know that we are working with a "tried and true" realtor with two sets of happy clients.

Last week, we prepared all of our paperwork again and submitted a loan application to a loan officer that our realtor works frequently with. And as I just mentioned, we found out yesterday that we can OFFICIALLY move forward.

I check Redfin and Zillow several times a day looking for updates on homes that have gone on the market. There isn't a lot of inventory in our price range in the locations we want.  I admit, we have some pretty strict parameters - and I imagine over time those may get loosened up a bit. To be honest, I'm willing to be flexible on most of our parameters except price, of course (don't want to spend more than we can afford!). It's Hubby who is fairly selective. 

This is what I've learned in the very short time that we have been looking:

-It is a really competitive market place.  There seems to be a lot of other buyers and investors out there and not a lot of inventory.

- As a result of the above, we have to be prepared to make a decision very fast. I always thought there would be more time to mull it over but no . . . this is NOT your average HGTV House Hunters episode (I love that show even though it is completely staged!)

- This may take some time.  I feel frustrated at the moment because I'm not really seeing the perfect fit. We are slated to view two homes this weekend but we are sort of "eh" on the location. I think I need to prepare myself to see a lot of houses and even wait a few months until the right thing comes around.

Anybody out there have any tips for us or recent home buying experiences to share?  I'd love to hear them!

Friday, January 11, 2013


Happy Birthday to me!
Image Credit

I turned 33 on Monday.  It's kind of a strange thing to grow older, isn't it?  I think it's true - every year seems to go by faster than the one before it.  And now I'm solidly in the thirties.  You could describe me as "30-something" and be completely accurate.

The girl that I've been going to (so far only three times but it's becoming a "thing") to get waxed asked me how old I was and she assured me that I don't look a day over 27.  Sometimes I still feel like I'm 27 . . . if you were to ask my age I might just say "27" because in my mind, that's how old I feel.  This is probably because that was a really good year: I reconnected with my old boyfriend (now he is my husband) after about six years apart, I landed the job that led to the job that I have now, I moved back to my hometown after being away about 10 years, and in general just had a lot of fun.  But, in actuality, even though I THINK I'm 27 I'm really totally cool with being 33. 33 feels solid.  33 feels like it has its shit together.

I had an unusual amount of time over the weekend (thanks to a sick day and a vacation day - because I don't believe one should have to go to work on their birthday - it's a personal philosophy that I live by) to watch the HBO show "Girls" on demand. I watched about six episodes of season one over a four-day time period and I have to say this is now one of my favorite shows.  I really appreciate the candidness of the four primary characters - all in their mid-twenties, single and living in New York. I love the way Hannah just says what's on her mind - it's so zany but also really heartfelt and relateable. My inner 24-year-old relates so hard to her. Watching the show has made me think back to my own early-to-mid twenties and what a huge pile of crazy I was . . . how I felt so confused and misdirected and misunderstood.  I'm really glad that I'm not 24 anymore.  In fact, I'm really really glad to be 33.  This is going to be an awesome year.


Tonight we are going to the hospital to meet the newborn baby of our dear friends. I'm really excited about holding a newborn again. I haven't held a newborn since my own daughter (now 17 months old TODAY) was in my arms. God, sometimes I really miss those times.  I loved having a newborn.  But I also love the chirpy, giggly, adorable still-not-sleeping-through-the-night toddler I have today. If my ovaries could have their way I'd be pregnant again as of yesterday . . . but fortunately my (very tired) brain and my (also very tired) husband can talk sense.  I really want to have another child but it's all planned out for the future: get pregnant in the summer of 2014, have baby in 2015.  I'll be 35 - which I think is perfect. And because things always go according to plan, this should work out just as I want it to, right? Right.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013



Hello World! Welcome to my new blog.

I really like to write but I don't make much time for it in my personal life. Professionally, it's what I do (press releases, "news" articles, white papers and case statements among a plethora of other things) but I have long given up journaling my inner thoughts or recording my day to day activities. But I really love to read other people's blogs: cooking blogs, crafting blogs, "mommy" blogs, photography blogs . . . blogs about graphic design, home decor, organizing, personal finance and everything in between! That's why it was one of my 2013 resolutions (yes, I am a New Year's resolution type of person) to start - and maintain - a blog.

I'm not sure how "out there" I want to be or how much I want to share.  Some of my favorite bloggers are completely open about who they are while others are more reserved and private.  I'll figure out what's best for me and my family as I go along, erring on the side of caution. 

I'm working on my list of 2013 goals/resolutions.  Here's my list so far . . .

1. Organize and minimize the "stuff" in my life. I have to admit, I tend to be a bit of a slob and I grow attached to things.  My poor husband, R, is the COMPLETE opposite.  He is neat and organized and appreciates orderly places and people. He doesn't really accumulate stuff like I do. How we wound up together is sometimes a mystery - but he inspires me to be better in this regard! So some of my goals are to organize and clean - on a regular basis - some of my problem areas: my car, my closet, my bathroom . . . and then help maintain and organize the areas of our home that sometimes get out of control: our daughter's room, our living room, our dining room and kitchen.

2. Become better with money - eliminate debt, save for the future. Over the last year I've been doing a lot of reading about personal finance. There are a lot of things we do right . . . and a lot of things we could be doing much better.  Namely, this year I'd like to eliminate all of the balances on my credit cards and pay off my car. In addition, with the money saved from eliminating debt, I'd like to up our retirement and savings contributions.

3. Spend more time being creative. As a full-time employee AND as a mother of an almost 17-month old, this is a tough one for me.  I miss spending time crafting, baking, and getting creative in general. This year I want to: complete 12 knitting projects, read 20 books, make six crafts and try six new recipes. I think this is do-able if I just make the time!

4. Take better care of my body. Pre-motherhood, this was yet another thing that came much easier. I was able to go to a studio for yoga a couple of times a week - and I loved it!  I trained and completed a half marathon. I did spinning! And these days the only exercise I get is toting around my 25 lb toddler . . . admittedly, that's often feels like quite the calorie burner! So, my goal is to figure out how I can fit in some exercise just a couple of days a week. I figure if I start small I can accomplish it! In addition, I'd like to do some improvements in the types of food I consume - less processed and more whole foods.

5. Buy a house. This is THE BIG goal for 2013.  My husband and I feel that we are ready for home ownership - we just need to get the ball rolling.  We have a meeting with a realtor this weekend!  We'll see what happens!

So, there you have it - my 2013 goals and resolutions. It's going to be a good year!