Adventures of Meet Make Do.

•  12.March.2014

If 2014 has already hand delivered a lesson in anything it’s that life can put in your path the most unexpected & headache provoking barriers which you’ve gotta find a way to hurdle right over. As I alluded to in the last couple of posts, Adam and I have had one rough start to the new year. A major house debacle and some recent bouts of bad luck (including a lost cell phone while traveling last weekend which was chock full of un-backed up memories – dang it!) leaving this recent trip to Palm Springs as that much-needed recharging and rejuvenating cure – I mean look at that house?! How could you not be uplifted here?!

Overall the trip to Palm Springs for Meet Make Do was a dream. After feeling incredibly disconnected & uninspired recently in large part to our crazy personal life, I was in desperate need for a pick me up and a pick me up was what I got. Four days in the sun (okay so it rained a whole bit too) with some of the most wonderful women I have ever had the good fortune of getting to know better was everything I could have hoped for and loads more. I was greeted by warm smiling faces and a GORGEOUS mid-century pad filled to the brim with craft/styling supplies and surrounded by breathtaking views – a stylist’s dream location, really. I’m pretty sure I actually whimpered at the sight of the place.

BrittniKelly & Chelsea along with the good folks at Bing worked to bring this curated, creative & collaborative event to life over the past year (so much dedicated planning!) and I’m so so thankful they did! It’s not too often as a freelancer and blogger you get the chance to spend devoted time with those whom you adore and aspire to work alongside, but rather you sit behind the keys of a keyboard day after day wishing with all your might you could instantaneously shrink the distance between you and those whom are scattered so far across the country. The life of a freelancer can often be pretty lonely, and thankfully these four days reminded me I’m not alone on this path. The event was meant to provide inspiration and the tools to create without limitation or hesitation in the company of great friends and new pals, and boy oh boy did it deliver! From our first evening to the very last goodbye I was consistently encouraged by the generosity of spirit of each of the attendees. Each gal, curious and creative in her own right, made the opportunity to create in the same space that much more exciting and full of potential.

Alongside the generosity of Bing, there were so so many amazing people & companies who made this lovely adventure come to life for us. I’ll be sharing a peek into our beautiful swag bags next week, but I couldn’t refrain from sending an enthusiastic (I’m fist pumping over here!) shout out to those who kept our taste buds dancing the entire week. Edoughble (egg-free!) cookie dough styled to perfection with Shop Sweet Lulu supplies was one of the best tantalizing afternoon treats. I know right – so stinkin’ cute! I promise you they were as tasty as they look! I also adored the yummy jams and sweet spreads from M. Greenwood perfect for morning, noon or night snacking. Seriously ANY of their jams paired with cheese and slathered on a cracker?! YES, PLEASE! I will be no doubt purchasing some for home just as soon as our pantry is finally up and running.

Even this gigantic floating beach ball provided the most thoughtful reminder that the process of creating and thinking outside the box is endlessly rewarding. Each detail of the event was so thoughtfully planned, down to our evening dinners – my favorite of which was at Workshop Kitchen + Bar. During a trip to Palm Springs last summer I was saddened I didn’t get a chance to try the place, so when I saw it on the agenda for the week I jumped up and down (I’m easily excitable if you can’t tell!). The dinner was AMAZING and every bit of the menu was as just as beautiful and skillfully styled as it tasted. If you ever get a chance to explore Palm Springs, PLEASE stop here. You won’t regret it! Definitely a new travel favorite of mine.

Besides engaging in great conversation over amazing meals, we spent our time creating & experimenting using a plethora of gorgeous supplies & stunning florals from Flower Muse. I’m pretty sure I spent 50% of my time just drooling over our supply cabinet, as every last item tugged at my imagination. I’ll be sharing a fun tabletop spread I dreamed up alongside Ashley of Sugar & Cloth later on down the road – such a thrill to spontaneously create with a new friend!

I was so impressed by all the amazing projects that were born during our days in Palm Springs – one of my favorites was these spring inspired gift wrapping ideas from Brittany over at The House that Lars Built. I mean come on!?! That flower garden gift topper blows my mind and would surely bring tears of joy to the receiver! Spring has been in full bloom here in Seattle this week and Brittany’s toppers make the change of season all the more sweet.

As with every positive life experience, there is always a not so shiny counterpart. Although as a whole our time in Palm Springs was a delightful treat, we also had an unexpected turn of events two days into the trip that left us moving to a new location at the colorful Saguaro. After an amazing meal at the Ace Hotel sponsored by Minted on Thursday night, we arrived back to our lovely rental house to find that the cabana’s out back had been ransacked. With as much as I travel, I’ve always expected I’d get robbed or pick-pocketed at some point or another, but for it to happen in a place as lovely as this, I was in complete shock. I’m still a bit shook up after the experience (feelings of violation are the worst!), but luckily despite myself and another fellow blogger having our items stolen, the week was hardly ruined in large part to the wonderful women I was in the company of. Quick thinking and a hop to action by Brittni, Kelly & Chelsea prevented any of our time together from spoiling. Thank gosh.

I’m so so so immensely grateful for this trip and for the new friendships that were forged during our time in the desert. My time in Palm Springs, felt like the most perfect summer camp, where life long friendships are forged and you are inspired to be better and dream bigger. Thank you Melanie, Dani, Chelsea, Brittni, Kelly, Ashley, Erin, Chelsey, Brittany, Lexy and Mary for sharing your kind hearts, blogging struggles/triumphs/lessons and reach-for-the-stars aspirations with me. Our late into the night chats will be something I will carry with me for a long while to come.

Be sure to swing by each ladies blog for additional recaps of Meet Make Do (plus new places to add to your blog roll!) and/or instagram for loads of visual inspiration at #meetmakebing.

 

images generously provided by : mary costa photography

 8.

If you were kind (and bored enough) to read through last week’s forever long post about our home buying process I thank you. The past couple of months have been such a whirlwind, and we are so grateful for the kind and encouraging words so many of our sweet friends and many of you have passed along. I’m scared to say it, but we finally feel like we are getting a small handle on things and the house is finally having some MAJOR transformations happen this week. Fresh paint, new plumbing (hallelujah!), we gutted the basement and the heat is finally being turned on so we can move in hopefully in the very near future…yay!

Since our new house will consume much of our lives for the next many months, I couldn’t imagine not sharing all of the adventures of homeownership with you all here! Of course I’m dying to get to all the fun stuff (the styling and decorating parts of course!) but there are so many little steps that have and will come before then, so I’m eager to share all that we have learned along the way.

We never EVER EVER expected we would be doing a full kitchen remodel this early into our home ownership, but with so many ups and downs this early into the process, we decided to gut the kitchen and start fresh a couple of weeks ago. The thought of having to clean drug residue (yeah, I know, check back to this post for all the gross details) off of places where food would eventually sit made my stomach turn. Plus the cabinets were hideous and so not our style. It will take a while for our wallets to rebound after the remodel, but we are so so eager to have a place where we are inspired to host friends and cook healthy meals together!

I’ll be sharing before and after photos of the whole process, but for now here are some of the things inspiring our new kitchen design. I want a space that is bright and very white (yay for getting rid of those weird green/rustic/metal/not so cute cabinets!), has open shelving and a pretty & exposed pantry. Just that sentence alone has me jumping for joy!

Stay tuned for the before and after photos of the full kitchen transformation including our new appliances! We will be on the hunt this weekend for countertop options and are purchasing our actual cabinetry today. Woot! Woot!

Happy Weekend Friends!

images via : one | two | three

 6.

A Cozy Evening.

•  05.March.2014

I’ve been so eager to share a few of the images Dorothee captured during our lovely winter’s evening back in January. The day actually turned out to be quite spring like (sun and warmer temperatures than we expected) but the dinner celebrated the quiet, calm darkness of a chilly winter night and the beauty of sharing a meal with others. Aran’s bare palette studio space was the perfect setting for a dinner we hoped to reflect the simplicity of good company. We used the term “hygge” (I’m obsessed with its various definitions & meanings on this site) to inspire much of the evenings personality including the menu itself.

It was a privilege to style and design the evening alongside some of my most cherished Seattle friends. Aran did such an amazing job with the menu and I was endlessly impressed by how gracefully she taught the students to concoct each dish. I learned so much from her throughout the evening and was constantly awe-struck by the beauty of each recipe. Dorothee was a constant cheerleader throughout the entire planning process and was so much fun to work with throughout the night. Her photography consistently takes my breath away as it so accurately captures the light and mood of any event in the most classic & wonderful way.

My dear buddy Julia did an amazing job on the paper details we dreamed up together. Her hand illustrated type and amazing graphics skills made the Seattle map inspired menu come to life and pop right off the table. How crazy amazing is that watercolor menu eh?!! I was blown away by how many custom type options she sent along during the planning phase, and seeing the final pick in person made me squeal with glee. The girl is so bananas talented. I mean who other than Julia could hand paint that Hygge poster in one run? Wowza!! I’m so blessed to have had Julia along on this tabletop design. I’m so inspired by her work and endless talents.

And then there is Keli of Drygoods Design. Oh lovely Keli let me count the ways! Those little leather pouches would never have come to life without Keli’s touch. I often come up with harebrained ideas that seem so unattainable and unrealistic in the moment, but leave it to Keli to help make my wildest design dreams come true!

We spent an afternoon picking out soft and buttery leather hides at an amazing leather shop in the International district of Seattle, and then spent an evening together cutting and sewing the wee little pouches to life. I was so so overwhelmed with joy by how well they turned out, and was so eager to get them in the hands of the attendees the night of the dinner.

I love creating design details that serve a plethora of purposes, and loved that the pouch not only housed the menu during the meal, but could be taken home and enjoyed as a coin purse, business or credit card holder or whatever else could be imagined. We also nabbed the gorgeous chambray fabric we used for the long table linen from Keli’s shop as well – I’m telling you – if you’re ever in Seattle make sure to swing by Drygoods!

The beautiful wood benches were a treat from the lovely folks over at Seattle Farm Tables. Their barn wood benches were the perfect counterpart to the overall design. I wanted the seating option to create a “cosy” vibe and the dark finish boosted the moody ambiance. I will definitely be reaching out to the them for many more events down the road. So thankful for their generosity and so impressed by the quality of their craftsmanship. Thank you Azure and Mike!

Katherine over at Marigold and Mint (one of my most FAVORITE floral shops in all of Seattle) so kindly provided the floral elements for the evening. I was so eager to use some of her amazing cotton flowers for the tabletop and went into complete panic mode when she told me the cotton was nearly out of season. But thankfully she worked her magic and was able to special order some for me the week of the dinner. The cotton was that soft texture I wanted to offset the harsher wood and ceramic elements. Hallelujah!

The evening was caped off by the beautiful salt donated by the San Juan Island Sea Salt Company. The uniquely designed little jars and the course grey salt are so beautiful (I can’t wait to get cooking with it once our kitchen is remodeled!) and I was so excited to include them amongst all of the pretty details.

Thank you so much to everyone who spent the evening with us. It was so much fun getting to know each of you and we are so appreciative of your new friendship!

Stay tuned as Aran will be hosting many more lovely dinners and workshops in her studio space in the weeks to come. You can see all of the upcoming events here. You can also find many of the recipes from the evening over on Aran’s beautiful blog.

 

photography by Dorothee of Belathee Photography.

 8.

Currently Coveting : Sun in February.

•  26.February.2014

Sunny days are pretty sparse here in Seattle this time of year. February often holds only the promise of rain, rain and you guessed it : more rain. Winter tends to feel like it’s dragging on every year at about this time and you start to feel like you’ll be stuck in a dreary dramatic grey haze forever. When the sun peeks its head out you run towards it. You sprint actually.

So when some of my favorite blog and creative gal pals along with the kind folks at Bing reached out to me a couple of months back about spending a few days in Palm Springs this week for a creative brainstorming powwow, there was ZERO hesitation in my step – a definite no brainer for this Vitamin D starved Seattleite. Sunshine, poolside cocktails, & great conversation with inspiring women for four days in the dead of winter? Uh, yes please!

Some items I’m currently coveting this week as a hop on a jet plane to the land of palm trees and sun-kissed cheeks today.

silk headscarf | sunblock | poolside reading material | sandals | strappy bralette | sunglasses | lip balm | denim overalls (just nabbed these ones from Madewell that I LOVE and will likely wear daily for the next year)

 1.

The Not So Short Story.

•  24.February.2014

For the past 8 months Adam and I had been on the road to home ownership. I refrained from sharing our “guess what?! we are looking for a house to buy!” news because so much of my life is public (whether it be via Instagram, or Facebook or this very blog), so it felt fun, exciting and even intentional for once to keep something for ourselves, something private; but also because I didn’t want to be asked a million and one times how it was going. Not because I don’t appreciate the genuine concern & excitement our loved ones and our community of friends might have for us, but rather I didn’t want to feel as though we were in a constant struggle against expectations or in a fishbowl of sorts. The pressure to perform and perform “well” when it came to picking our first home felt too immense. Homeownership as far as I could tell was never an EASY feat for anybody, but I knew we had chosen an especially difficult path in getting there and I wanted to be kind to ourselves and keep it on the DL. I didn’t know how to display our journey successfully and so publicly here without regret.

Four years earlier we had also seriously considered purchasing a home in Seattle and at the time I was still in full-time employment as an RN. Duel full-time incomes made our dreams of homeownership all the more likely and it felt like a comfortable and confident next step at that time. We had been pre-approved for an amount that far exceeded our wildest expectations and we were excited about the possibility of actually getting into a home within the Seattle city boundaries. Seattle is an expensive place to live – the costs of renting in this city are 61% higher than the national average, and owning just seemed nearly impossible. Practically every person we knew at the time was either renting or underwater on their own property. It never crossed our minds that we could actually afford something in the ’206′ area code, so we considered ourselves destined to be serial renters, and were okay with that for a really really long time. Even in the weeks just before our house closed we constantly had conversations about how “okay” we were with being forever renters as long as we got to stay near the city and our lifestyle remained much of the same – we could travel, and enjoy nights out with friends – we did not want to become what so many had referred to as “house poor”. We were reminded often that unless we expanded our desired neighborhoods to miles & miles far outside of Seattle, OR I always kept full-time work (hello, when would we ever start a family?), OR we saved and saved for the next 20+ years, homeownership probably wasn’t gonna happen for us anytime soon if we remained Seattleites.

Luckily for both Adam and myself we have always been on the same page when it came to buying our first home. We didn’t want a condo, or a townhome, but a house. A single-family dwelling, with a yard and a simple way for our elderly bulldog to get in and outside. We weren’t opposed to renting either an apartment or townhome, but if we were going to make an investment of our own we only wanted it to be in the form of a house…that’s just us. We also dug our feet in the sand with regards to location and were NOT budging. We had many a conversation with close friends puzzled by the contradiction of us wanting a home so badly, but our unwillingness to move outside the Seattle city limits to get one. Even with Adam working on the Eastside (if you’re not familiar with Seattle, it’s across the waters of Lake Washington, about a thirty-minute drive on a good traffic day (an hour on a bad one) from our current location) we’ve always stood firm in our decision to stay in the heart of the city. For many reasons really, but mostly because we felt that if we were willing to live in the suburban outskirts of Seattle then it was time to return home to our suburban roots in Colorado and be near family. We moved to Seattle because we loved that it was the perfect combination of city hustle + quiet suburban calm all at once. We love the easy access to weekend farmers markets, the plethora of amazing food options, the short walking distances to the grocery store…the list goes on and on. Seattle just felt like the perfect “home” for us. If we were going to leave THIS city, we were going to leave Washington and that was that.

So when we made the decision last June to start really seriously looking, we weren’t naive enough to think it would be a simple process. We knew that finding a house in our very limited geographical radius would be nearly, if not ACTUALLY impossible, especially in our new price range (self-employment is no joke, and the bank practically considered me non-existent (talk about identity crisis!) when it came to what we were “qualified” for). We had been renting a great house month-to-month for the past four years, so we knew we had time on our side to slowly look and check out our options – however small those options might end up being. We had saved what we could for a down payment and went into the initial search optimistically and hopeful. Not two days after our concrete decision to seek homeownership, did our landlord call and say she was selling her home. We had 30 days to buy or find a new rental (talk about PRESSURE!!), and ultimately decided that a rash and frantic home purchase would never be the right way to go. So I spent two solid weeks standing in line outside rental properties desperately trying to find a short-term rental option that allowed a dog and would also allow us to calmly continue our house search. Without much luck, we signed another year lease, presuming that with our smaller budget our likelihood of finding the right home in the next year was slim to none anyways.

We had never considered what a short sale or foreclosure option might look like before we began the home search, and were warned many a time during the search that going the short sale route would be exhausting, torturous and more than likely not even successful. A few of our married couple friends had attempted putting in offers on short sale properties during their own home buying process, before eventually giving up and waiting for a traditional home buying option to come along. But try as we might, we realized very early on, that our budget just didn’t allow for much more than a 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom dump in the traditional sense. And I’m not just saying “dump” in that dramatic, I want the “oh-so-perfect-first-house” way, but seriously : D-U-M-P. Four walls, stained smelly carpet, outdated everything and creepy as hell. And because neither Adam or myself are innately handy, a true fixer upper just wasn’t in our cards financially OR emotionally. The entire reason we wanted a home in the first place was so that I could intentionally feel more grounded in Seattle (less travel, more home time), start a family eventually, have an immediate and comfortable home office/good lighting space (or most recent rental had been a dark, dreary dungeon-like space when it came to good light), and I could continue on my current career path without the pressure to go back to my “old life”. The thought of buying a home that needed a ton of work or was smaller than our current rental options seemed frivolous.

Ironically very very early on in our search, I stumbled upon a home I had open house stalked over three years prior, which was seemingly back on the market. I remember during that initial walk-through so many years ago, falling in love with the character and charm of the 1920′s bungalow and thinking quite vividly in my head that a house of this kind was a far off illusion for us – at that time it was listed well outside of our price range. But this time around, something in my gut was telling me to ask our agent to find out more about the house – THAT house. After a little research we found out the house was vacant and had been on the market for sometime. There was currently a “lowball” offer already on the table from an investment company, but we still had a chance to put in an offer although we would be ‘second in line’. We learned that it can take weeks, even months for the bank to even look at short sale offers and they don’t even have to respond! That meant we could wait up to a full year before knowing whether or not we even had a chance at the house and couldn’t put an offer in on another property in the short-term. After viewing the house a couple more times and considering the right amount to offer, we went ahead and put in our initial offer. I left for a four-week work trip to Europe the next day.

The summer went by and turned into fall and then into winter and not much had changed. No word from the bank, we had practically forgotten we had even put in an offer on a house. And then things started happening…FAST. The bank had turned down that other low investment offer, but in the mean time another couple had also put an offer in on the house and it was larger than ours…MUCH larger. At that point we bid the house farewell and I emotionally bashed the place for the next two weeks, listing out all the things I didn’t REALLY like about it in order to make myself feel better. We hadn’t gotten our hopes up about the house (we’d been warned too many times by our agent not to), but we were still disappointed. Sad that the search had to continue once again and that the possibilities for homeownership seemed all the more slim at that point. Let’s just say the market within our price range was : dry as a bone.

Two weeks later, and we got word that the other couple had backed out. Today I wonder why they REALLY backed out, but we were told by the sellers agent it was because they didn’t want to deal with the lengthy short sale process and wanted a home immediately. In a flash we were back in the running and the bank wanted to counter us. Woah…it was really happening. The bank countered us nearly 60k over our original offer and 45k over asking price – we couldn’t help but laugh out loud and ask “really??!” How could they counter us at a price so far beyond what the house had even been listed before!? We learned that in a short sale situation, the bank doesn’t necessarily pre-approve the listed price of a house on short sale, but rather the home owner and their agent set a price that they are hopeful to get and one they hope the bank will eventually approve. Once again we felt defeated and so far off the mark. After a conversation with our lender (who offered to increase our loan amount to match the bank’s request) and our short sale attorney (oh yeah, forgot to mention that : even though I’m married to an attorney, you have to hire a special lawyer to help you through the short sale process…something to consider for those of you out there thinking about pursuing this kind of property) we decided to stay within an amount that was comfortable for us, not one the bank had intentionally skyrocketed. We followed the suggestion of the attorney and increased our offer to match the current asking price + $1000 more. And like that, it was accepted. Woah.

From then until closing it was a lot of ups and downs. Learning that the home owners had multiple leans against the home and a few we would be responsible for didn’t feel good. It also wasn’t fun to pay off the overdue utility bill, or fix a couple of things on the house at our own expense in order for it to pass appraisal. But nonetheless we kept pushing forward. From putting in a stove conveniently given to us by one of Adam’s nice co-workers who was working on a home remodel of his own (thank you Greg!), to the multitude of inspectors (the one suggested by our agent, a mold specialist, the oil company, a sewer specialist and so on and so forth) I wondered when it would ever end. And then one day it did. We signed and had keys in our hands and it was ours. Now this last paragraph although short and sweet doesn’t even come close to accounting for or reflecting the amount of sleepless nights I had the last two weeks leading up to closing. I was taunted with horrific nightmares from every imaginable thing (squatters living in the basement, to our oil heating tank leaking all over the property and into others yards costing us thousands). I stayed up night after night doing hours of research on the various quirky aspects of the nearly 100-year-old home – all the while freaking myself out and making me question over and over again whether this was the right decision for us. The more I read into the property and the more I poured over our seemingly “great” inspection report, the more my gut was telling me that this decision was the wrong one. But for many reasons I’m just now realizing and accepting, I didn’t listen to my gut but rather followed my heart. The heart that wanted a place to call our own, the heart that wanted to start a family and tell the world that we were okay. The heart that wanted to fit in with our other married friends who owned homes. And as I look back on it now, I’m disappointed and most upset with myself. For allowing my need for societal acceptance (I realize how much of this is actually all internal pressures), and my desire to have four walls to call my own outweigh the red flags that were going off in my head.

So when all was said and done, nearly seven months after our initial offer, we closed on a short sale home and we were thrilled – really we were. A 1924 3 bedroom, 1.5 bathroom craftsman bungalow was ours. We finally were going to have a place of our own – and a cute one at that in our ideal neighborhood too! What had seemed scary and exciting all at once now felt even more so with the reality of “woah. We just bought a house!” shocking us to our core. We spent that first afternoon walking through the home, eagerly dreaming up all the endless decor possibilities. We anticipated moving in our belongings that following weekend and set initial goals for cosmetic changes we wanted to make to the house before and after move in. We called our families and made plans for first visits and our anticipated need for help with initial home improvements.

No more than one hour later we met the first set of neighbors. And as kind and friendly as they were (they were clearly thrilled that the house that had sat vacant was now occupied) they shared news with us that made our hearts instantly sink. Things unraveled for us in a blink. We found out the house had actually been vacant and on the market for many, many years (3+) and in the midst of its vacancy the home had been broken into more than a few times. There were a few suspicious aspects of the home that although I noticed on inspection, I didn’t fully comprehend until we spoke with the neighbors (electrical wires that poked out in weird places, missing smoke alarms, unidentified marks on the basement walls)…the house had been damaged by squatters (remember those nightmares I was having the two weeks prior to closing?!) and as a result we learned that the house was unsafe to reside in more ways than one. All of the copper grounding materials had been stripped from the house, those weird marks on the basement wall that we were told were mold by our inspector we came to realize were actually burn marks from fires being started in the basement. We also noticed that there was constant sparking of our light switches (seriously no joke, actual sparks!) and knew immediately on that first day, that moving into our new home that weekend just wasn’t going to happen.

That was five long weeks ago. Since then, we’ve had over 20 ‘contractors’ in and out of the house (9 of whom were electricians all telling us that they were flabbergasted by how unsafe the conditions of the electrical work really were – NONE of which was disclosed to us by our inspector). We agreed to a full overhaul of all of our electrical wiring, an expense that we never could have expected on day one. Electrical re-wiring meant walls to come down, original molding to be ripped out, carpet to be ruined, and original plaster ceilings destroyed by the pressure of our electrician walking on them in the attic. Also after finding evidence of some not so great activities that went on in the house before our purchase (trust me when I say raking up used heroin needles and crack pipes in the backyard on day one of owning a home is not the most ideal way of taking over ownership) I decided to get the interiors of the house tested for drug residue. I just had this gut turning suspicion that our new house was some kind of horrible example of an episode of Breaking Bad. Sure enough – meth residue in our venting system and throughout the home. Fantastic (please insert heavy sarcasm here)! A few thousand dollar HVAC cleanup & two full weeks of elbow grease hopefully rid us of the problem (we should have final results from a re-test this Wednesday), but we have felt all sorts of “violated” ever since finding out that lovely news.

Lucky for us, the house wasn’t actually a “meth manufacturing” property (thank the high heavens!), but spending money to clean up remnants of things you’d rather not think about, makes this whole thing all the more frustrating and exhausting. We have since completely overhauled the yard (thank gosh for friends who give great referrals!) ripping out dead trees, pruning 25 feet tall shrubs, removing some weird water pond in the back yard, and slowly clearing out dead leaves and overgrowth. We are considering having the plumbing completely redone this week as well since the downstairs ceiling has been removed for the electrical work, have decided to fully gut the basement and rebuild it to start fresh, and are also working on remodeling our kitchen (something I NEVER thought I could get Adam to agree to do this early on). SO many repairs that we thought we could wait on, have quickly taken over our day-to-day and hour by hour decisions. We will have to save for things like a full roof and sewer repair (also two items that were misdiagnosed on inspection), a leak fix of the foundation (that was a new find after heavy rains last week – yipee!), a new front porch and cement walkway, exterior house painting, and new fencing. We knew going into this purchase that buying a house of this age, would come with a whole slew of problems, but this many fixes before we’ve even slept a night in the house has led to many hours of tears and frustration.

So after what could quite possibly be the LONGEST “not so short sale” story to home ownership, I woke up this morning understanding why my blog had been pushed to the back burner and has been quiet for so long. We’ve quite simply been overwhelmed by life and the thought of sharing those overwhelming feelings, felt all the more overwhelming. We have been ‘couch surfing’ for the past four weeks, leaning heavily on the generosity of friends, and all of our belongings are currently in storage. I have turned into a general contractor of sorts as I let workmen in and out of our new house all day long in the hopes that one of these days it will be livable and ready for us to make it a home. My Mom was in town all last week (hallelujah!) and was a saving grace – she was able to give us an optimistic perspective on how we can move forward and helped in brainstorming fixes we’d never had experience with before. Dealing with home repairs is usually stressful, but when it comes in the heaviest form five minutes after you get the keys to a home its life changing. Regret is an awful word, and if you’d asked me three, even two weeks ago if I regretted purchasing this house I would have said yes. But regret is a consequence of knowledge and then action, and our actions were simply a consequence of following the seemingly trustworthy information we had been given during inspection. I’m sure as days turn into months, and months into years, we will gain a whole magnitude of perspective on this experience and it will eventually feel like only a tiny fragment of our past. Even just a few weeks later, I’m excited about the possibilities this home holds for us, regardless of the tough start.

I have always tried to be transparent here (sometimes I have not been as articulate as I’d hoped) sharing my dreams, goals, creative pursuits, fears and current life happenings. But for the last few months, those life happenings have felt like a terrifying roller coaster of sorts – elated in one moment, stomach in throat terrified the next. I struggled in knowing how to share, or why to share, or when to share. Ultimately it all cascaded down into not sharing at all. It’s amazing what happens to you when one arena of your life is predominantly out of whack. When one of your most basic needs (shelter) is one big question mark. Health, relationships, work, and creative energies all seem to go right out the window and everything you are and everything that exists about you has to focus on that one thing. At least that’s the way this journey had ended up for me. We (myself especially) have been emotionally tormented by the overpowering predicament of the moment. They say buying a home is one of those major life stressors (it falls in line with marriage or parenthood or graduation) and boy did it rock our world. I mean ROCK it all topsy-turvy like. We are taking things one day at a time at this point, and are hoping with all our might that we will be moving into the house sometime in early to mid March. I hope as things positively progress with the house, I can come back here and be more present with all of you. I appreciate everyone’s patience as I took time away from this blog to focus on life. I’ve been fearful that my absence was somehow reflective of a complete life derailment since blogging typically brings such great joy to my life, but realized that something simply had to give during this unexpected and challenging time. Looking forward to sharing the progression of our new home with all of you and the things we learn along the way.

**Side note : yes, those are Uggs you see me wearing in that first photo with our new home in the background. As unflattering as I consider those darn boots to be, they have been the most comfortable thing to quickly throw on during this long and drawn out move, especially when the weather has been so ugly. Does anybody else still have those things floating around in their closets?! Ha!

 13.

Happy Love Day!

•  14.February.2014

Happy Valentines Day friends. It has been a little over a month since my last post – air silence reflective of a lot of changes in our life – both good and bad. I plan to share the not so short story with you on Monday, but for now wanted to check in a spread some love on this happy and hug worthy holiday.

10 things I’m loving this Valentine’s Day :

1. These parrot tulips. They are such a cheery flower and they brightened my day yesterday, while I strolled the farmer’s market. Can’t wait for this to begin again!

2. My husband. The last month has been the most challenging of our last 9 years together. Such a blessing to know that even when I’m at my worst, he’s right there to tell me I’m at my best.

3. These cafe stools.

4. The Olympics! Although I typically enjoy the summer olympics far more than the winter, I’m really digging watching the freestyle skiing and figure skating. Oh the drama!

5. My parents. My Mom is coming into town tonight to help us with some intensive housework this weekend and even though my Dad couldn’t also come, I’m so thankful for their support lately. My Mom is one tough cookie, but she has softened in the best way during this tough time and has been my rock.

6. The sunshine we’ve been having here in Seattle. Week before last we had some record low temperatures, so it has been so nice to feel a bit of spring on the verge this week!

7. Our Seattle Family. We have had so many friends reach out and offer a helping hand, or even their own homes to us during this crazy transition. We are so immensely overwhelmed and grateful for the outpouring of generosity. Have never felt more loved than I do this Valentine’s Day.

8. This wallpaper. I’m envisioning our entire breakfast nook being covered in something bold in the near future.

9. All of the beautiful props and home accessory items here.

10. I good healthy glass of red.

Sending you warm cyber Valentine’s hugs today! Thank you for sticking with me through the silence. I’ll be back super soon!

 2.

A Rainy Morning Spent with Fear.

•  08.January.2014

Happy New Year friends. I spent the morning listening to the rain fall outside our Seattle living room window while working on client proposals, mood-boards for upcoming projects and finishing up on the last of those unanswered emails that trickled in while I was away for the holidays.

Yesterday, for the first time since the new year, it felt like my first really productive and assertive work day. The holiday excitement has officially worn off and the desire to set goals, make progress and try new things has valiantly taken hold. Adam and I have some pretty amazing/nerve-racking/exciting/scary things happening in the near future (will be sharing that news soon), so I’m trying to just deep breath and remember that no matter what happens everything will be okay. We have each other and that’s enough. Everything that I need to get done, will get done, and everything that’s supposed to happen will. Things happen for a reason and I should trust that those things are for the right reasons.

I’ve always known that I’m a person that allows fear to run many parts of my mind, and my life for that matter. When anything new presents itself, when change comes knocking on the door, I’m the type that always turns and runs to that place of fear. Sure, I eventually find it within myself to brave the unknown and plunge forward, but it’s not without first stewing for hours if not days within the yuck. Finding myself in the theory : “the worst that could happen WILL happen” and believing it to be true instead of turning over the coin to the other side and saying “what’s the BEST that could happen?”. As my dearest friend Emma reminded me this morning : BOTH are equally possible. Yes, bad things could happen as a result of any decision, BUT great things are just as likely to result too. I’m taking her ‘wise well beyond her years’ advice and trusting my gut and moving forward with a smile and assurance that life will be great - yes, inevitably challenging – but beautiful and wonderful too. That’s the thing about true good friends : they can see things about yourself that you can’t and can hold your hand while you (however slowly) open your blinders.

I had some fun pictures I was going to share with you today from a recent event I designed in November, but I realized I needed a day to just write and get some quiet clarity. To meditate for a few minutes and find calm & peace within myself and this blog while the world swirls around me. I always find peace in my travels so I’m ending today’s post with some black & whites of my 2013 adventures as a way to remind myself that life is grand & great & beautiful and to encourage myself to push back against todays fears and just ride the wave of life today, one hopeful step and raindrop at a time.

*Today’s post is dedicated to my Emma – a friend who always somehow knows exactly how to tap into my strengths when I feel uncertain.

 9.

Resolve.

•  03.January.2014
re·solve
(riˈzälv,-ˈzôlv/) v. decide firmly on a course of action.
We sat on the couch at 11:49pm on New Year’s Eve drinking champagne and nibbling on chocolate covered strawberries and the feeling set in. I was actually going to miss 2013 and felt sad seeing it go.
There was a part of me that felt guilty for having such a feeling as there were are so many people in my life that had a pretty rough year. Challenges, heart breaks, wishes for something never received, desires that felt out of reach. But for Adam and I, our year really was one of the best yet – nothing major to complain about. Sure, we had stressful moments (moving unexpectedly, car breakdowns, overwhelming work scenarios, occasional family drama, good friends moving away) but overall we were healthy, happy and on a day-to-day basis pretty content. We’d taken 3 trips abroad together, become closer than ever, set our sights on new ambitions for our future…life was good. I couldn’t help but feel a little fearful as 2013 came to a close and 2014 said hello.
What if because last year was great, this year won’t be? I decided to throw away my stagnant pessimism and believe that because 2013 treated us well, that maybe just maybe 2014 would inevitably treat us even better?? We are already in the midst of some big changes this year and we are only 3 days into the new year, so I know without a doubt that this year good or bad will be pretty monumental. I refrained from setting too many unrealistic goals or resolutions for 2014 (I’m a classic case of “not just anything is possible but rather everything is possible all at once” an attitude that typically leaves me feeling inadequate and overwhelmed by the second week of January), but I did event still want to set some new priorities and resolve to try a few new things this year.
So here goes : In 2014, I resolve to have more folks over to our home – friends over for cups of tea, and rambunctious game nights and random festive gatherings ; really really using days off as actual days OFF ; creating everyday styling opportunities in great light ; ridding ourselves of television to open up time to focus on life at home – cooking, reading, projects ; using my camera to capture memories more often than my iPhone ; to buy less and give much more ; to volunteer and find joy in giving back to my community ; and to take things ONE day at a time. Here’s to hoping that 2014 is just as robust as the last and that your own new year is filled with joy and happiness and dreams realized.
Happy New Year Friends!
 1.

You know those times in your life when you have a basket full of plans and all at once they have to be thrown right out the window? Well let’s just say I’ve never been a person that has resolved to dealing with that sort of issue very well. The past couple of weeks have been anything short of pleasant : long nights kept awake but sharp back pain and horrible nausea, endless coughing fits when nothing including tea, cough drops, water, sitting straight up, the neti pot, or even heavy-duty codeine would do the trick (believe me you name it, I’ve tried it!); missed holiday parties, missed blog posts, missed coffee dates, the same pajamas day in and day out…being sick is never fun, but when it falls smack dab in the middle of the holiday season it’s a double whammy.

I found out a few days back that after nearly two weeks of feeling like I was two steps from my death-bed, I have pneumonia and a raging viral cold. I’ve done my very best to rest, rest, rest – but I never realized how tough this really is for me. I’ve noticed myself becoming a bit depressed and getting really down on myself because the laundry is in piles all around the house, I’ve had no energy to cook at all (hello takeout!) and my blog and business matters have come to a grinding halt. I’ve had little to no energy except to walk to and from bed to the couch, and for using my index finger to click-through the plethora of crappy daytime television shows.

I’ve felt sorry for myself, felt sorry for my husband and pup who have had their own sleepless nights due to my endless coughing marathons and fits of writhing pain, but I’ve also finally felt what it feels like to slow the hell down. I’m sure much of my end of the year kiss with satan’s cold is a direct result of not taking better care of myself and listening to my body when it needs a break. Although Thailand was amazing (again, many more pictures coming soon I promise!) and was a much-needed break, it was almost too little too late. Now don’t get me wrong, I do my fair share of couch sitting and movie watching on most weekends, but what I don’t do is fully shut off my mind and emotional self to the constant mind bending swirl of “to do’s” and how I could be doing it “betters” of everything in my life – that a true break (forced or not) is time where you just focus on your current temperature – AND no one elses. You shut off the noise of the outside world and just exist in your most simple form. Even with lots of forced practice over the past couple of weeks, I’m still learning how to do this, but I’m realizing that if I don’t learn how to somehow incorporate this in my daily routine, I might be plagued with illness at an even more inopportune time in my life further down the road.

With all that said, I did want to apologize for my lack of holiday gift guides & festive posts this year. I usually love rounding up my favorite gifts in the annual color guides, but unfortunately I didn’t have any energy to execute that aggressive of a gift list this year. My hope is that if I continue to lie low and take care of my body through to a revived and healthy day, I can come back in the new year with exciting new posts and a fresh healthy body and attitude for 2014.

BUT for now, I’d love to leave you with a few snapshots from this year’s holiday cards. I love Artifact Uprising and was so impressed and pleased with how easy their holiday postcards were to create (if you haven’t seen their products yet, you’ll love their softcover books where you can create photo memories straight from your iPhone!). Our dear friend Julie captured a few images of Adam and I in our neighborhood a few weeks back (thank you Jules!) and I loved how they looked against the fun holiday graphics of the postcards.

Happy Holidays sweet friends! May you find joy, happiness, health and love in the New Year and always! Planning to stay shut off a bit longer to enjoy time with loved ones in Colorado through the change of calendar year. See you in 2014!

 2.

After being out for the count as a result of an overwhelming and exhausting cold for the past two weeks (hence the quietness on the blog lately!), I’m all too excited to announce an exciting upcoming collaboration in January with my dear friend Aran. (Wait, something to look forward to besides cough medicine, a runny nose and a dreadful fever?) – Yes please!!

Aran Goyoaga is such a super talent – her gluten-free cooking is some of the best food I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting, and her photography and food styling is seriously some of the best work in the biz. Aran will be hosting and teaching a (5 course!) winter cooking class in her beautiful new studio space in Belltown, while I will be styling the space with a PNW inspired theme for a dinner party after all the cooking commences.

On January 26th, I hope you’ll join us for a night that is sure to be warm and festive, while we all learn some tasty new recipes and relish in the joy of good company this winter season in an amazing space. Hope to see you there!

You can register for the upcoming dinner party and cooking class in Seattle over in Aran’s new shop : HERE. Be sure to sign up soon, as spots are limited and are sure to go fast!

 

Side note : the photos above were captured in Aran’s new studio space by our friend Dorothee during a ladies lunch a few months back – I’m telling you – everything Aran touches turns to gold .. you don’t want to miss this fun event! More photos of her beautiful studio space here and here too!

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