An Update and Big Plans

W and I are proud to announce that we are almost homeowners! Everything will be official soon, but until then I should probably explain how we have arrived at this point.

During the month of June, I traveled home to Texas for a family beach trip and some time in my hometown. The first week of my trip was on Mustang Island, which is outside of Corpus Christi, and is home to a small town named Port Aransas. Our week at the beach consisted of rest, relaxation, amazing food, and a surprise baby shower for my sister Elizabeth (I’m going to be an aunt!).

W stayed in Birmingham working and taking care of the pups. We had been working on preparations to look for and buy a house before I left and sure enough all of the puzzle pieces fell into place right as my vacation began. W spent a few evenings with our realtor looking at houses in Homewood and wasn’t very impressed. Come mid-week we received a new listing email from our realtor that featured a cottage in Homewood’s Edgewood neighborhood. The pictures were impressive so W and the realtor arrange a showing appointment as soon as possible. After the showing I received a call from our realtor who explained that W was ready to buy a house without me. (She wanted to play devil’s advocate since I hadn’t been there in person.)

I assured W that surely it could wait a few days – he just needed to cool his jets. However, let me say that two weekends prior every.single.house we had an interest in went under contract. The Homewood area is still so desirable that its real estate market is fast-paced. Great homes move quickly. After showing my entire family the listing photos and virtual tour at the beach, everyone took W’s side and agreed that this house will not last through the weekend.

W and I agree that he can put an offer on a house I haven’t even seen as long as it is contingent on the inspection. My family beach trip wraps up and we head to my hometown so I can have more time with sisters and my parents. During these few days, W keeps me updated on negotiations and schedules the inspection for the day after I fly back to Birmingham. After flight delays and a piece of luggage lost, I arrive home at midnight and I’m due to be at the house bright and early the next morning.

Inspection day is super hot. I arrive at the house with my own camera, iPhone, notepad, pen and a 25 ft tape measure. I was so nervous because what if I absolutely hated it?! Who lets their husband buy a house?! I was also excited because I thought it had potential from the photos and virtual tour.

You enter this cute Homewood cottage through a screen door that leads to a screened porch.

Homewood, AL screened porch

Not a bad start. I take measurements of the room and hope that I like everything else as much as the porch. Once I recorded my measurements, I entered into the living room.

Homewood, AL living room with hardwood floors

Can you even believe the hardwood floors? Again I was really happy with what I had seen so far!

I walked through every room, one-by-one, taking measurements and recording them for my future reference. Heck if this was the house I was going to have a lot of planning to do!

Needless to say every room had its perks and I understood why W had to act without me. 🙂 The inspector was very thorough and helpful. He gave us a few things to consider/negotiate and we decided that we would negotiate since we loved the house. I should explain at this point that I have a history working in real estate and I am licensed in Georgia. Our thoughts at this point were: Should we negotiate on the sale price? Negotiate on closing costs? Or negotiate that the sellers’ must fix it or we walk?

The answer to that question depends on your personal situation. We decided that if the sellers’ could cover closing costs, then we could use our funds to make the appropriate repairs.

After more successful negotiations, we were under contract! Since that day I have been making big plans for every room on Pinterest. You can follow me here or follow our house board here. Once the closing is complete, I will show everyone the facade. I can’t wait!

Our First Anniversary

Time flies when you’re having fun, right?! I cannot believe it has been one year since our perfect celebration… it seems like yesterday!

our_wedding_toast

W and I wanted to celebrate our first anniversary with an enjoyable dinner out on the town and the traditional first anniversary gift of paper. Many of the nice restaurants in Birmingham are closed on Monday evenings so we actually started our celebration Saturday evening, where we had a reservation at Hot & Hot Fish Club. Unfortunately I did not take any pictures of my food or drinks (due to a new self-imposed rule of no phone at meals) but I can assure you everything was spectacular! I don’t know who tends the bar at Hot & Hot but oh.my.goodness my cocktails were good. The cocktail menu had so many appealing choices that I ended up trying three different varieties over the course of our evening. 😉

We also thoroughly enjoyed the food. W ordered one of their classics: Loin of Rabbit Stuffed with Fennel Sausage on Sweet Corn Puree with Field Peas, Heirloom Tomatoes and Baby Okra. I ordered the simple grilled fish, red snapper, because the Gulf red snapper season started on Friday. How’s that for a fresh catch? The Gulf Red Snapper was served with Tomato, Avocado, Grilled Vidalia Onions and Basil-Lime Vinaigrette. Following our entrees, we ordered an after-dinner libation to compliment our dessert, Elton’s Chocolate Soufflé with Crème Anglaise and Whipped Cream.

We had a wonderful evening and I highly recommend Hot & Hot!

Hot and Hot Fish Club on Urbanspoon

Last night was our actual anniversary and we decided to celebrate at home with W’s famous spaghetti, a bottle of wine and gifts. W’s famous spaghetti is an adaptation of this spaghetti all’amatriciana from foodnetwork.com. We like it spicy so he basically follows the directions, but puts in a tbsp of red pepper.

After dinner we swapped our paper gifts. I am a stationery fiend and love to have personalized notepads in practically every room. W noticed that all of them either have my first name only or they include my maiden name and I still use them. No more though! He gave me four notepads with my new name on them.

First Anniversary Gift Ideas: Paper

I tried thinking of something besides stationery for W. I fatefully found a watercolor print on etsy that I knew he would treasure!

Etsy Seller DogArtStudio Watercolor Print of Labrador Retriever

Etsy Seller: DogArtStudio

Getting to Know You

DISCLAIMER: I found this post sitting as a draft when I thought I had posted it live…weeks ago. But we are definitely still getting to know the Magic City so without further ado…

Well we haven’t been in Birmingham long but the storm of moving has passed. Not a single box remains in our apartment, although our storage unit is a different story. The pups made their adjustment and actually l.o.v.e. our new place. W and I enjoy driving around somewhat aimlessly while getting to know the city.

One thing that Birmingham is very proud of is its culinary scene. We are excited to have more options available and we didn’t really know where to start. We want to try as many places as possible but we are also trying to cook at home more often than we eat out. In my mind this translates to cooking on week nights and going out during the weekend.

We have also been exploring because our current apartment is temporary. Sometime in the fall the entire complex will be demolished so that a new luxury development can start building. We have been trying to get to know different neighborhoods so that we can choose a place to make more permanent. Right now our favorite seems to be Homewood. Why?

1. Convenience. No matter where we have lived previously, we have always rented in an ideal location. We really enjoy walking to as many places as possible and having simple commutes. Homewood is convenient to W’s office, downtown, and many other neighborhoods in B’ham.

Homewood AL Edgewood neighborhood

An example of a home for sale in Homewood. Photo credit: Realty South

2. Comfort. Homewood feels very comfortable, safe, and is just really darn cute. We love the tree lined streets with plenty of sidewalks, the parks, and the older houses. Finding a house with a yard is definitely on our list of things to do – the pups would greatly benefit.

3. Commerce. Homewood has a great amount of shops and restaurants. The boutiques are fab and most of the restaurants we have tried were keepers. You really wouldn’t need to leave unless going to the Apple Store at The Summit (but this isn’t far away either).

I plan on trying to blog about our favorite restaurants and other unique finds in the city. Hopefully I can find a better blogging routine before we need to move again. You just never know…

The Latest: We Are Still Alive and Well

I started this blog with the intention of recording memories of our first year of wedded bliss. Even though I had the best of intentions that hasn’t happened. Heck I can’t even stick to once-a-month updates. Every time I sit down to update there are just so many things to note. Thinking back on everything that has happened since my New Year’s post is overwhelming and just isn’t going to happen.

Instead I am going to include the most major changes since mid-January:

1. At the end of January, we had an addition to the family. W finally decided it was time to get his man dog. Hence this precious face:

Shug, our new addition

Shug, our new addition

2. February is a complete blur – probably because we were consumed with raising a rambunctious puppy. We managed to save many shoes but ended up with a lot of ruined socks. Sophie hated us for this entire month because of the daily attacks. However, one afternoon in a state of sheer exhaustion this happened:

spooning puppies

Sophie & Shug - quality time spooning

3. March. March was busy and brought drastic change to our lives. W spent the beginning of the month considering some career options and decided it was time to look for something new. Mid-March he lined up some interviews in the big city (Atlanta) and a slightly smaller but bustling city (Birmingham, AL). Our time in the Palmetto state was complete. He accepted an offer in Birmingham so we started to pack and arrange an interstate move – all while we were still training the puppy.

Packing & Preparing for a Move

I labeled boxes on our patio in order to avoid a high from this Sharpie magnum. I love any and all Sharpies - Fine Point, Regular, Sharpie pens, and this giant.

4. Last week during the first week of April the move was made and now we are settling in. We are excited to be back in Alabama, home of our Auburn Tigers. The pups both enjoy our new apartment and the sprawling lawns between the buildings. W starts work on Monday and I am happy I can continue working from home.

Hopefully we will have exciting updates to share as we explore this new city!

A New Post… About our New Year Celebration

Naturally this is a catch up post on our married life, as maintaining my personal blog is difficult after a long day of blogging elsewhere…

Anywho, W and I have thoroughly enjoyed the first 10 days of the new year. We began with a new years eve celebration at home. This may sound boring but we had a fun filled evening preparing a feast and consuming a bottle of wine and champagne. 🙂 Our menu consisted of the following recipes:

Both Barefoot Contessa recipes were perfection. I actually compared Paula’s red velvet recipe with that of my Nana’s and made a few adjustments accordingly. I was so confident that I didn’t need a whoopie pie pan according to Paula’s instructions. Well that was false – her instructions did not work out, as the batter would spread so thin and combine to make a large pancake-like creation. I did cut that large pancake into circles in order to make whoopie pies, but I also saved enough cake batter to make a small round cake. Maybe next time I might pour a small amount of batter into a cupcake pan so that the teaspoons cannot spread….

While we prepared this feast, we had the Auburn bowl game on. We were happy with the outcome, although we didn’t feel very confident until the second half. I should also mention that this day I was a crazy person. I told Andy I wanted to start the new year with a clean house, but I did not mean a little vaccuming and tidying would do. No. I meant that every surface needed to be cleared, pledged, and put back together. I also meant that every fan needed dusting, baseboards needed a wipe down, and so did the chair rail that runs through our entire apartment…

Needless to say by January 1, I had nearly killed both of us and we could barely move. We decided to watch Mad Men on the Roku all. day. long. We have never caught the Mad Men fever but that changed after watching 2.5 seasons back-to-back. Now that is our nightly show so that we can finish season four before season five begins this spring.

Since I didn’t take any photos of our feast, I leave you with a picture of baby Sophie in her holiday pajamas.

Holiday Pajamas

So sleepy!

Christmas Time is Here…

I mentioned in my previous post that W and I were in Vegas and once we returned to Columbia we had company visiting the following weekend. Well in these few days, I was bound and determined to clean the house, put up all the Christmas decorations, and catch up on some work that I should have finished before Vegas. Somehow I did it!

I started by setting out the nativity. I found this nativity last year at Miss Cayce’s Christmas Store after-Christmas sale in my hometown. Miss Cayce’s is the best Christmas store ever in existence! While I was putting this out, I listened to my most favorite Christmas song, “Baby Born to Die” by Bebo Norman. Do yourself a favor and watch this video to hear the song and read the lyrics alongside.

Christmas Decorations NativityNativity by Mark Roberts

After the nativity was in place, I decided to work on our mantle. Our apartment is so small that I didn’t want to worry about clearing off the mantle and then find a place to put everything away, so I decided to keep everything on display and hang our stockings in front. The stocking holders are from an after-Christmas sale at Target last year. The cute little wreaths have a Barboglio look to them so I bought 4 of them at 70% off.

I actually made the felt stockings years ago when I lived in Atlanta. First, I bought the already made felt stockings at Target for $0.99 each. Next I went to Hancock fabrics and bought felt sheets, ric-rac trim, and Fabritac fabric glue. This was a easy no-sew project! I cut the strips and circles out with fabric scissors and simply glued them to the stockings. I made a tree skirt as well. The red felt for the tree skirt was cut from a bolt, but the remaining felt I bought in the sheets.

Christmas Decorations Stockings and Stocking HoldersHomemade felt stockings hung with care
Christmas Decorations Homemade Felt Stockings and Tree SkirtHomemade Felt Stockings and Felt Tree Skirt

Finally I decided to put up the tree and hang the ornaments. I actually waited for W to come home from work so we could hang ornaments together. He told me he “didn’t know where to hang them” and he thought I should do them all by myself. The next day I did so while he was at work again. Our tree is a 4 ft. fake from Target that sits on a Lack side table from Ikea. I have had this tree and table setup for several years but it’s perfect for an apartment. By the way, we will always have fake trees and garlands, as I am allergic to the real thing. Anything real sends me into horrible asthma attacks, so no hating on the artificial here!

Christmas Decorations Christmas TreeOur Christmas Tree

Lastly, I hung our Christmas wreath on the front door. I bought this wreath years ago at Target (also artificial) and decorated the wreath with ornaments purchased that same year. I bought a plastic Rubbermaid wreath holder so I don’t have to take the ornaments off each year. Let me tell you the Rubbermaid wreath holder is worth the investment! I love taking my wreath out each year and hanging it as is – such a time saver!

Christmas Decorations Wreath

Finally I had finished the decorating! We have been in the Christmas spirit since the end of November, including Sophie…

Sophie sports her Christmas bow complete with gingerbread men!

Also, expect more holiday updates on the blog this week, including a look at our first Christmas card!

P.S. All of these married “firsts” are too much fun!

P.P.S.  As always, I apologize for the iPhone pictures – hopefully you get the idea…

The Happs

A lot has happened around here lately leading to a lack of blog posts. There is no way I will bore you with all of the details so here are the main highlights in bulleted form:

  • A while ago I promised some college football news and then never delivered. W and I met at Auburn University so we are HUGE Tiger fans. Two games have come and gone – one with a WIN and the other… a loss. Nevertheless both games were too much fun. The first was here in Cola and we had our best friends visiting for the weekend. We rearranged our couch pillows and throw to celebrate the occasion. The following weekend we visited these same besties in Atlanta for a viewing party at their house. Like I said, too much fun!
    Auburn University decorOur festive couch with orange and blue pillows and a tiger stripe throw!
  • I also promised recipes and have since posted only one. That’s pathetic. I literally have them stacked to share. Rather than dumping them all in this post, I will just let you know that we made this super easy chicken stir fry with some wheat noodles instead of rice. W and I were absolutely amazed at how easy it was to make, how simple it was to clean up, and its deliciousness was equally good served cold the next day for lunch. W says I can make this on a weekly basis and he will never hate it. That is my kind of recipe 🙂
  • The last promise I made and have yet to deliver is news about my latest business venture. You may or may not know that I am a partner of Virtual Marketing Studio and we are the best consultants anyone could ever wish for. I have something else developing that I really am going to devote an entire post to. I’m sure I can force myself to do that next week.

Until then have a freakin’ fabulous Friday and the happiest weekend! I’m going to a happy place in Cashiers, NC with this amazing view!

Cashiers, NC mountains

Ch- Ch- Changes!

Yes that’s right, we have some changes happening around here. I’d like to think David Bowie was singing about them in his hit from the ’70s. Doubtful, I know.

Change #1
This is actually a series of changes all brought on over the course of the engagement and since the wedding.  Rather than give you way too many details I will just give you a quick outline.
Engagement –> Wedding Planning –> Wedding –> Moving to a different state –> Unpacking and Organizing Existing Things –> Unpacking and Organizing New Things (wedding gifts) –> Settled in New City (but now we have a lot to explore!)

Change #2
W and I love food – and good food at that.  Before the wedding we would eat out a lot (like almost every night). Now that we are married and trying to save money we have decided to limit ourselves to eating out only twice a week. This means we are cooking which also means I need great recipes.  STAT.  As we find winners I will be sure to post them here with all the details.

Change #3

This is not me, but the inspiration for my wedding ‘do

I spent an entire year growing out my hair for the wedding.  That’s right – from the day we were engaged until the day we were married – was one year exactly.  I have never been a long hair person, I usually cut it when it has grown past my shoulders and starts driving me crazy.  However my wedding ‘do needed long hair so I stuck with it.

Blunt Bangs and Long Straight Hair

Anyway, I made a big change to my hair yesterday and it wasn’t in the length. Instead, I decided to get bangs!  I’ve had bangs before and I loved them, but one day I thought to myself that they might not mesh with a potential formal updo, so I grew them out pre-wedding.  I am getting used to them and training them to lay flat again (takes about a week in my experience) so I have a picture of someone I don’t know with similar tresses.

I promise to give everyone updates on the effects of these changes as we experience them. Until then have a happy Friday and weekend!

Wandering #1

So I’m starting this blog to keep in touch with folks and provide a fun record of mine and W’s first year together (or more, we’ll see).  I also think it will be a great way to keep in touch with our friends and family that are spread throughout the nation.

A little about us: we met the first weekend of W’s freshman year at Auburn University at a fraternity band party. I’m originally from Texas and he is originally from Atlanta. We were married June 4 on the most beautiful, blessed day of our lives. The entire wedding weekend was absolutely perfect! After a fabulous honeymoon in Cabo San Lucas, we’re back to everyday life which includes but is not limited to: working, homemaking unpacking and organizing, spending time together and with friends, and loving our dog Sophie.

We hope you will follow us as we wander through this first year together!