July 6, 2018

We're Gonna Need Another Passport...

There's more than one reason I've been MIA on my blog lately.

The Pilot and I are expecting a baby!  

For a long time, I wasn't sure if I was going to write this post but ultimately, I felt like I couldn't leave it off of my blog. I've had this blog for 8 years and it's a huge part of my life. Sure, I haven't posted much in the last year or so but for those of you who still read, I want to share our news, and outside of that, this blog has been a chronicle of my life since graduating from college and it feels like a missed opportunity to not write about something as big as this!

The thing is, it took a long time for me to feel comfortable sharing this news. We didn't even tell our families until after my 16th week. 

Because this isn't my first pregnancy. The Pilot and I had the hardest year of our lives dealing with unexplained pregnancy loss and doctors who were so dismissive and flippant, it set my head into a spin. We also dealt with a lot of people who had no idea how to respond to something like pregnancy loss and said all the wrong things.

"Everything happens for a reason."
"It's all part of God's plan."
"At least you know you can get pregnant."
"This is probably for the best...there was probably something wrong with you baby."
"Now when you do have a baby, you know you'll be ready for it."

It was hard and I just couldn't take these comments in stride. My hormones were out of control and I was grieving and I really needed people to just tell me they were sorry and be there for me, not try to justify something that seemed so unjustifiable. Instead, with each passing comment, I crawled deeper and deeper into a hole until one day, I started to really worry about myself. 

But I got help. I found a therapist who finally made me feel like I had a right to feel the way I felt. I found friends who were open to listening to me and who made an effort to see how I was doing and I finally got to a place where I wasn't terrified to get pregnant again and, when I did get a positive pregnancy test, I didn't cry myself to sleep out of fear, I smiled a little bit and said, well, let's take this one day at a time. 

And here we are, 25 weeks later. I'm finally sharing the news and planning a nursery and thinking about buying cute hooded bathrobes and onesies and things for our little one and I'm finally, finally over the moon excited about having a baby. 

June 15, 2018

A Late Winter Getaway to Oahu

Anyone who knows me well knows that I loathe winter. I don't like anything about the season. This winter, I found myself questioning why on earth I not only still live in the Northeast but bought a house there! 

Compared with the last two winters, this one was nothing. We had about 5 days of temperatures below 10 degrees as opposed to entire months but it was just too much. When March rolled around and the forecast didn't call for a single nice day, I started going crazy...and then Carolann told me I should come to Hawaii and 10 days later, I was on a plane.

Everyone I know who goes to Hawaii goes to Maui. I've only been to Oahu but I highly recommend it! Hawaii is a long flight from the East Coast and it's nice to land in Honolulu and not have to get on another plane! While I would love to visit Maui someday, I'm perfectly content to keep returning to Oahu as long as Carolann is living there! 

My only agenda for this second trip to Hawaii was to soak up as much sun as possible and revisit the farm cafe. Carolann was more than happy to oblige on both accounts. As soon as I landed and got to her place, we made our way to the beach. I was in heaven. 80 and sunny? This was so much better than 38 and raining.

The flight to Hawaii isn't terrible but the time difference is tough. After roughly 11 hours of flight time, you land in the middle of the afternoon, 6 hours earlier than the time it is back home. I didn't last too long my first day but I was so happy to be on the beach.

The next morning, I was up before the sunrise. Carolann woke up shortly after me and we sat on her lanai drinking coffee with condensed milk and catching up...I was definitely on vacation!

We made a game plan for the day to head up to the North Shore to visit Waimea Falls and the Farm Cafe. We had gone to Waimea Falls when I last went to Oahu and I loved it! Although this time around, the water was ICE cold!

Carolann first introduced me to the Kahuku Farm Cafe shortly after she moved to Hawaii when she sent me a box of goodies including their vanilla bean caramel sauce. This stuff is heaven and it's even better poured over ice cream that's melting on top of grilled banana bread. If you ever go to Oahu, this should be one of the top things on your list. It's a little farm on the side of the road but the food is unbelievable and you can bring home some of their homemade goodies like lilikoi butter, pineapple papaya sauce, and that vanilla bean caramel sauce I'm talking about.

One thing I should tell you about Hawaii is that if you're planning a trip there and eyeing the weather forecast ahead of time, don't be alarmed if all you see is rain. It rained every day that I was in Hawaii but Oahu is a big island with a mountain right in the middle and, as Carolann so accurately pointed out, it's always sunny somewhere on the island! 

In search of the sun, we spent the next day in Honolulu on Waikiki Beach. It was still on the cloudy side but I didn't mind since I could still sit by the beach with a book and indulge in ice cream...which I did on this trip more times than I'm comfortable admitting!

Feeling the need to work off all of the ice cream I'd been eating, Carolann and I were up early the next morning to hike the Makapu'u Lighthouse Trail, a steep, but well-paved hike that's prime for whale watching and stunning views! It was a great hike and I loved watching the last of the whales migrating for the season!

After our hike, we brunched at and then whiled away the rain at the local bookstore where I bought so many books, I had to ship them home! (Two months later, they're still in the box on the floor of my dining room because of the saga we've dealt with my home office, but that's a story for another day.).

My last few days in Hawaii were all about beach time...we went back to Waikiki (the Hilton Hawaiian Village is awesome just to walk through!), trekked to Ko Alina (my favorite of the beaches), and made a detour to Disney's Aulani.

This trip was everything I needed to cure my winter blues. While it wasn't quite as warm when I got back to Baltimore, it definitely wasn't snowing anymore! I think a late March vacation may need to be exactly what I need from now on!

Have you been to Hawaii? What did you think? I hope this post adds Oahu to your wanderlist! 

June 8, 2018

Back to Blogging

Wow! I can't believe it's been three months since my last post! This is definitely the longest I've gone without writing and while, my absences from this little blog have become more frequent than I'd like over the last two years, this time around, I think I needed the break.

Today, I'm writing not just to catch up and fill space on this blog but to start an earnest commitment to getting back to blogging. Lately, I've realized that a lot of the pressure I've been putting on myself to work outside the typical 9-5 is self-imposed and I'm desperately trying to scale back and work normal hours so that outside of work, I can do things like run, blog, adventure around Baltimore, and spend time with friends.

The last time I posted, I was in Hawaii and ended up staying there 3 days longer than planned due to flight availability and maybe a little bit of my unwillingness to leave 80 degree Hawaii and head back to 40 degree DC. That trip was so restorative and I'm honestly still living a high from how good that trip was!

Since coming back from Hawaii, we've hosted a lot of friends in Baltimore which has been a great way for me to finally get out and do some exploring around my new city! We've taken a few trips to TX and NJ to visit family, and have only made it to one baseball game (during which it rained the entire time).

The Pilot and I have both been working a lot but we've also been working on our house. Unfortunately, most of the projects we've done around the house have been things we needed to do that popped up on us, instead of things we actually wanted to do which has been really frustrating but, I guess that's homeownership for you!

As I'm making an effort to get back to blogging, here's what you can expect to see from me this month:
  • A recap of my Hawaii trip with some tips for anyone planning a trip to Oahu;
  • An update on how our house is coming along, six months later;
  • A glimpse into what my days look like both when I'm working from home and when I'm commuting to DC'
  • A recipe or two that I've been cooking up in my head; and
  • Our next trip to Europe (location TBD despite the fact that this trip is coming up really soon).
I hope you'll follow along as I get back to writing more in this space and that you'll let me know what else you'd like to see! I've thought a lot over these last few months about this blog and what I keep coming back to is how many ideas I have for it! So, it's time to put those ideas into practice and start sharing all of those ideas. Stay tuned!

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! 

February 5, 2018

This Weekend in Baltimore {1}

This weekend, amidst finishing unpacking (I'm so close!), I finally got out to explore a bit of Baltimore!

Saturday afternoon, my friend Alicia and I met up at the Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower for a tour of the clock tower. Formerly the tallest building in Baltimore, the tower was a factory that produced Maryland's famous cobalt glass and Bromo Seltzer. Today, the tower is a 15-story art gallery with rotating exhibits.

We went because I wanted to check out one of the new art exhibits that had just opened but the tour was fascinating. The "tour" is really just a presentation about the history of Captain Emerson, who created Bromo Seltzer, a visit to the museum where you can see all of the old marketing materials, and a visit to the clock tower. Honestly, this was the best part. I found the information fascinating and loved visiting the clock tower!

The Tower is free to visit but the tour and access to the clock tower are $8. After the tour, we made our way down the tower, stopping in at all of the exhibits and then stopped for lunch at Pratt Street Ale House to meet up with my friend Chris who was in town. (The crab cakes are phenomenal.)

After lunch, we wandered down Pratt Street, doing a little bit of shopping and then went to Barnes & Noble because I am addicted to books.

Sunday, one of my friends was in town for the Super Bowl and invited me to come out to lunch at L.P. Steamers, a Baltimore institution in Locust Point, where I had my first whole crabs.

There were 5 of us and we ordered a "Boh't Load of Food," which included about half a dozen steamed crabs, clams, mussels, oysters, scallops, shrimp, and a Lobster tail with a pitcher of Natty Boh for less than $60. Oh and all of that seafood came with about an entire container of Old Bay dumped on top.

It was amazing. I would have taken more pictures but the crabs came first and my hands were soaked in crab meat and Old Bay. (I didn't hate it.) If you like seafood and you're in Baltimore, this place definitely shouldn't be missed. I wouldn't skimp on the Old Bay fries or the hush puppies either!

It was a really fun weekend with lots of crabs, old friends, new friends, and finally getting out to explore the city a bit! I'm almost done unpacking (just need to hang stuff on the walls!), so our house is starting to feel like home, and, after this weekend, Baltimore is starting to feel like home!

I can't wait to get out and explore more!
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