Monday, June 28, 2010

Birthday cake

My dad's birthday was just a few short days after Father's Day, so there was a lot of celebrating last week. And, of course, it's just not a celebration without a cake!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

whew!

These last two weeks have been a whirlwind, I tell ya! I spent some time in the mountains with my dad, and let me say, I always forget how much I love the area around Blowing Rock, NC. It really is incredible what some time how in the Blue Ridge Mountains can do for me. My dad and I were there 2 days, and spent a lot of time hiking, eating candy, and just generally hanging out. (Speaking of my dad, Happy belated Father's Day! I am lucky to have him!) It was a great time, and I got some fantastic pictures. There's nothing better than a handy little waterfall to play around with shutter speeds and aperture settings.

And just as exciting was a surprise trip to San Diego in sunny California! Bill's work is headquartered in that great city, and he had to take a last-minute business trip. Luckily, things worked out perfectly for me to tag along! After all, I am unemployed for the summer, and don't have many standing plans that can't be rearranged. So we woke up at 3:45 Monday morning, and were in California by 11 am local time. Bill had to work second shift on the trip, so we spent the days doing fun touristy things together, and then he would go into work at 5 each evening. I spent the nights at the hotel pool, hotel "social hour" (aka free food!), reading, walking the area around our hotel and I even found a nice little diner to eat at while I watched the Lakers-Celtics one night. Now, this was also a trip of firsts for me: my first time further west than Chattanooga, TN, my first fish taco, AND my first earthquake!! Not as exciting as it sounds, but let's be honest, I am really jazzed to be able to tell people I was in an earthquake! Bill and I visited Balboa Park, the San Diego Zoo, Torrey Pines State Reserve, La Jolla and Seal Beach, Torrey Pines Gliderport, Fry's (a HUGE electronics store - come on, I did go with Bill!) and so many fun things! I took 300+ pictures, and each one is fantastic! I certainly will try to post some here soon.

And, in keeping with the theme of this blog, where I record how I somehow transition into a real adult, Bill and I are under contract on a home! I don't want to jinx anything (I am just so worried something will happen!), but I will say it is perfect for us! Prime location, everything we wanted in a home, nice backyard, and - dare I say it - room for another puppy! So updates will certainly be forthcoming on that. It doesn't need much work, but I am really looking forward to painting (did I mention the absurd number of paint chip cards I now carry around in my purse?) and decorating and shopping for furniture and things we will need!

And on that note, sleep calls me!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

House hunting...

is not my favorite thing to do. Ask Bill or my parents - I find it a very overwhelming process. First off, it's a huge decision! Not only are houses expensive, but this is not an easily reversible decision. It's not like buying a pair of shoes that turn out to not exactly fit you right - you can't return a house! And then there's the issue of taking two people and a dog into account. Bill and I are on the hunt (and have been, for several months) for the home of our dreams - at least, one as close as we can get within our price range.

So just a few tips to anyone who, like me, may find it stressful and/or frustrating. Actually, these might as well be tips I should print out and carry around with me.
1). House buying takes patience. Lots and lots of it. Now, I don't put much weight into astrology and horoscopes but the one thing Aries are not known for is patience, and well, let's just say I am a very typical Aries. You have to wait to look at houses, wait to make offers, wait to hear back, wait for negotiations, wait for inspections, wait to find one you like, etc...
2). House hunting involves a lot of steps. It's not just picking one out and purchasing it. There are many visits to a home, plus lots of paper work and negotiations. I only know this because Bill and I got pretty close to purchasing one in the fall, but the inspection turned up too many problems (it was a foreclosure home).
3). It's next-to-impossible to find a home that has every thing you are looking for, especially if you are in a budget that is not half a million dollars. Chances are, especially when there is more than one person involved, it's going to be difficult finding a house that fulfills all requirements. I mean, I couldn't care less whether I have a home with a garage, but it's a big deal to Bill. On the flip side, I'd love a porch or sunroom, but I don't think it's a deal-breaker for Bill.
4). People have very varied tastes. While the plaid wallpaper or framed doilies may not be your cup of tea, people like what they like. Try to look beyond the knick-knacks and the cat statues, and past the colors and carpets, and see each home as a blank canvas. My favorite part of house hunting is imagining what colors I would put in each room, and how I would arrange the furniture that Bill and I already own (and of course, I dream about what furniture I would buy!)
5). Learn from each home you look at. When we began the whole house hunting process, I really didn't know what I wanted. I've lived in the same house since 1991, and I love it. It fits my family well, I have my own room, it's in a quiet neighborhood - but I didn't really know what it was that I really wanted in a home of my own. Looking at houses has made me realize that I want a good-sized kitchen (my parents' one is huge, while Bill's current one is the size of a walk-in closet, it feels like); I want a bathroom off the master suite, and I want a yard for my puppy. The list goes on, but each house is an opportunity to learn what I either do like, or what I really want to avoid.
6). Things all work out in the end. Maybe the reason Bill and I haven't been able to buy our dream home yet is because we actually haven't found it...