April 10, 2018

Coffee Date: April( (in Hawaii!) Edition

Aloha from Hawaii!

Remember me? I started off the year with a bold determination to get back into blogging...and then I let two months go without even trying to write a blog post. It makes me sad because I really do love this space and it's been hard to make it a priority for a long time now.

I wish I could say that this time, I've been away for a good reason - that I have so much to catch up on from all of the wonderful trips I've taken and fabulous things I've done over the last few months, but the truth is, I've been working a lot and I haven't really wanted to leave my house much because this winter has just been brutal.

But I'm exhausted. Until now, I hadn't taken a vacation in 5 months and this endless winter has just really worn me down. So a few weeks ago, I called up my good friend, Carolann, and asked her if I could come visit her in Hawaii, and I came as soon as I could.

Carolann asked me what I wanted to do when I got here and I told her, "absolutely nothing." We've done more than that but there has been a lot of down time and sitting on the beach, which is exactly what I needed. I feel immensely better. I was supposed to get home yesterday but one downside to the perk of being able to travel whenever and wherever is the risk of not getting a seat as a standby passenger. Getting out of Hawaii right now is proving a little bit difficult, so I'm working some immensely early mornings from here until I can get back home. 

Since it's been so long, let's catch up (over a steaming mug of Hawaiian blend with condensed milk, if you want to match my Aloha spirit!).

I turned 31 in February...and said good riddance to 30, the hardest and worst year of my life. The Pilot and I celebrated both of our birthdays, which are 1 week apart, with a road trip to Charlottesville, VA.

I haven't run a single mile in 2018... and its (mostly) been by choice, though the endless winter we're having hasn't made me miss running and I had a few doctors suggest that cutting back on running might be good for me. This isn't by any means a permanent thing and I think I'm going to start running again this month, easing back into it if (and only if) the weather cooperates. I'm over this 40-degree nonsense and I won't run in it in April.

I haven't been reading much lately... unless you count all of the reading I've been doing for work on education systems in West Africa and our current government's practical guarantee of another financial crisis. I haven't just skipped mine and Carolann's monthly link up because I haven't been blogging, I haven't been reading either. It took me almost the entire month to read the last book I read and I've been suffering through a horrendous nonfiction audiobook for 2 months that I can't seem to quit. I didn't even bring any books to Hawaii but luckily, Carolann has plenty for me to borrow! 

The Pilot and I are planning our next trip to Paris. We've gone to Paris every other year since 2012, merely by coincidence but on our third trip there in 2016, we decided to make it a routine. We want to add on to the trip either with some time om the south of France, or going back to Portugal, or seeing somewhere totally new. I have my heart set on Budapest but we'll see. 

I really miss living in DC. The Pilot and I both do. I fully expected this. Neither one of us ever really wanted to leave DC but the city's housing market is pretty inaccessible. I'm glad I still commute to the city a few days a week but I miss living there. I like Baltimore enough but DC is home. I have zero regrets about buying our home or moving to Baltimore and I hope I come to love Baltimore in its own way but I think I'll always miss DC. It's the first city I've lived in after London that I ever truly loved living in.

I wish I had more to say about what I've been up to these last few months but to be honest, I really don't. The Pilot has been flying a lot and I've been working a lot. I really hate cold weather so outside of going to work and walking Peyton, I've spent most of my time hibernating and getting settled into our house, but Hawaii has been so good for me and I'm excited to get home to (hopefully) warmer weather and head into spring with a new perspective!

What have I missed in the blog world lately?
Have you taken any vacations lately? Planning any exciting trips?

February 8, 2018

12 Projects We're Tackling in Our New House

When we started house hunting, I was really drawn to the idea of a fixer-upper. I'm not afraid of getting my hands dirty and I have a lot of experience with random things like putting up drywall, using various saws, and laying tile.

Our house was listed as "move-in ready," which from a real estate perspective is true. That's not to say though that there isn't a long list of projects that need to be done. Some are bigger than others and some are unexpected projects that have come up since we moved in but here's a full list of everything we're hoping to tackle in the house! A few weeks in, I have to say, I'm so happy we didn't get a fixer-upper! There's enough to tackle in our house that I'm happy to not have to install new doors throughout the entire house!

1. A full kitchen renovation - I really hope we can make this happen this year but I know what kitchens cost. I've hated every kitchen I've ever had so it's super important for me to have a kitchen that I love. Right now, I definitely don't love our kitchen. I'm not a fan of butcher block countertops and honestly, I could take or leave the farmhouse sink. Even aside from that, the cabinets were repainted with flat paint as opposed to semi-gloss paint, so while they photograph well they don't look very good in person. Luckily, the appliances are all new and the layout is perfect so we aren't looking at a total kitchen overhaul. Inspiration

2. A new pantry - Our pantry has an organizing system but it's rotting and needs at least one other row of shelves. Plus, the walls inside are really scuffed up and need a lot of spackle so I want to take down the whole system and put in one that's a little more functional. Inspiration

3. Remodeling the bathrooms - All three bathrooms are in rough shape. They have horrible linoleum floors, bad lighting, vanities that are falling apart, and one of them is missing a vanity mirror. I also want to pull these fixtures down ASAP! Inspiration.

4. Built-in Bookshelves - This is literally my dream. The first time I saw the house, I said that this back wall in the living room needed serious help. I can't wait to tackle built-ins and be one step closer to my dream of having a Beauty & the Beast style library in my home. Inspiration.

5. Installing a fireplace mantle and giving the fireplace a facelift I think adding the mirror helps but this little wall has so much potential! The DIY Playbook recently featured a story on Instagram in which they gave their fireplace (which looks a lot like mine!) a makeover. It definitely gave me the confidence I need to do the same to ours without worrying about melting anything! Inspiration

6. Exposed brick in the office. - Most Baltimore (and DC) row houses have exposed brick and I'm a little disappointed that ours doesn't. Luckily, I can easily change that! How great would this space look with the back wall done in brick?! Inspiration.

7. Remodeling the laundry room - For better or for worse, we've already started this project. When we moved in, our washing machine was full of black mold and nothing would get it clean. We tried having the gasket replaced but the machine was too old, so less than a week after moving in, we had to replace the machine. Luckily, we were able to get a good deal since it was the end of the year! The laundry room had the same linoleum as the bathrooms so, once we got the machines out, we tore that up and laid new flooring (it was NOT as easy as that sounds). While I love the new flooring, I realized that the paint color doesn't look right with it so we're going to repaint the laundry room and install a chandelier that drops down to replace the fluorescent lighting and remedy the horrible lighting in the room! When I come home from work, this is usually the room I come in through so I really want this room to feel homey! Inspiration.

8. Fixing the doors - The weatherstripping on our front and back doors was completely painted over, ruining it. Unfortunately, new weatherstripping hasn't helped keep the temperature on the first floor at a reasonable level. Not only is this horrible for our heating bill but we can't even stand to be there. I have to wear my winter coat just to do laundry! I think we need to start with storm doors to hopefully keep some of the cold air out!

9. Painting and staining the stair rails - I am not a fan of oak. I don't know if I want to stain the banister and paint the rails or if I want to stain the whole thing. I'm leaning toward the former. What do you think? Inspiration.

11. Replacing all light switches and faceplates - This is a super annoying project. When we moved, almost all of the outlets and faceplates had been painted over. The ones that hadn't, are just really grimy. This was one of the first things I wanted to take on but I haven't managed to do it yet.

12. Seal the hole above the television - There's a giant hole behind this faceplate that was supposed to be sealed before we moved in, but we ended up with this faceplate instead. I bought some wire mesh that I'm going to patch it up with and then spackle and paint it. Then, I'm going to hang some frames around the TV to give the wall some color!

I consider us really lucky that aside from the washing machine and the doors, these are all cosmetic projects that will just help make the house feel more like our home! It's a long list but I think we can manage all of these this year! As we're making progress, I'll share before and afters and projects on my blog! I think the first things we're going to tackle from this list are the outlet covers, the fireplace, and the office! 

If you own a home, what were some of the first projects you did in your house?

February 7, 2018

No Makeup House Tour

Every year since I started blogging, I've had the idea to post a tour of my apartment. I've never actually gotten around to it because I never managed to "stage" my place to get it photo-ready.

Recently, I came across the idea of a "no makeup" house tour - a photo shoot of the house as is, not staged, not styled, just lived in. Now, 98% if those posts I've seen have absolutely been staged in some way. Come on, I know that you don't have a tray of fresh flowers just sitting on your bed with two magazines placed just so on any given Tuesday.

Today, I'm giving you the real deal no makeup house tour...with unpacked boxes, messy corners, and laundry that hasn't been put away. While I like to think our house will usually look a little bit better than this, I'm excited about our new home and wanted to share it, so here's the tour!

The First Floor - This is the least exciting floor of the house. It really only has the laundry room and office, and not much else. Since we've moved in, we've managed to raise the temperature of the 1st floor from 42 degrees to 53 degrees, so we haven't done much there because it's way too cold to do anything!

We did have to replace the washer/dryer right after we moved in (there was black mold inside the washing machine!) which resulted in us having to replace the floor. As you can see, I've managed to do some spackling on the walls but haven't gotten around to touching them up with paint. I have big plans for this room!

My Office: I can't wait to finish this space! Working from home 3-4 days every week means I really need a comfortable working space. I have so many fun ideas for my office and we're getting started on it this weekend! For now, though, it's just a mess.

The Second Floor - The second floor is the main living area. This is where the kitchen and dining room, half bathroom, and living room are. I love that this space is separated from the bedrooms upstairs, and from the office downstairs! It definitely creates a nice flow through the house for when we entertain or when I'm working and The Pilot is home!

The Kitchen: This is one of the first areas of the house that I want to renovate. It will likely have to wait until fall but I do love how open it is and how much counter/cabinet space we have! I love to cook so I really want to love my kitchen!

The Half-Bathroom: I can't wait to redo our bathrooms. We're going to start with this one next month. When we moved in, it didn't even have a mirror! We pulled one from one of the upstairs bathrooms to put in this bathroom but we're still one mirror short!

The Living Room: So far, the living room is the most finished room in the house but it still needs some work! I really love how it's coming along though!

The Deck: Is it spring yet? I have grand visions of spending hours on the deck laying on a chaise, reading books, soaking up the sun, and tending to my not-yet-existent herb garden (and painting that unpainted plank).

The Third Floor - This is where all of our bedrooms are. I love that the bedrooms are separated from the rest of the house, it makes going to sleep so much more relaxing! There are three bedrooms upstairs. I'm using the future guest room as my own little yoga studio for now!

The second upstairs bedroom is The Pilot's "Moffice" (Man Cave + Office).

The Guest Bath: This is where we took the mirror in the downstairs bathroom from, so this bathroom needs a mirror. I also want to get rid of the medicine cabinet.

The Master Bedroom: Our bedroom is a good size but it's long and narrow, which makes it a little bit challenging to decorate. So far, this is what we've done but I don't love it yet. I've been brainstorming ways to maximize the space and really make it feel nice and relaxing!

The Master Bath: In a terrible design flaw, the Master Bathroom is the smallest bathroom in the house. I don't think there's anything we can do about that but I do want to make the room look nicer and more relaxing (starting with that towel rack coming down!).

As you can see, we definitely still have some work to do (namely, putting things on the walls!) but I really wanted to share what our place looks like! Later this week, I'll be sharing a list of projects that we want to tackle this year and some design challenges I'm struggling with, that I would love to crowdsource ideas for! 

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