Sunday, July 14, 2013

Summer Manifesto

Well, not really summer.  August 17 – September 29 Manifesto.  I finish off my Armenian class with a big test on August 16 and go back to work on September 30th.  I will have some work to do in that time, but I will also have some time off.  And that’s a great thing because man oh man have these last 10 months been stressful and busy.  That’s another story, though. 

Summer Manifesto…things I want to do while I have a break.  A real break.

1.  Read The Hunger Games series.
2.  Make a quilt out of Joshua’s plaid shirts.
3.  Go to a beach or park and just read for a whole day.
4.  Practice calligraphy.
5.  Make some burp cloths to have on hand for gifts.
6.  Start Harry Potter series.
7.  Make a BDU quilt.
8.  Build Blurb photo book of Georgia trips.
9.  Clean out guest room.
10. Create wedding scrapbook and finish up a few others.
11. Learn Adobe Illustrator/ maybe make my own font?
12. Transfer photos from Google to Flickr.
13. Turn off all electronics for an entire weekend.
14. Make a blues/greens quilt out of fabrics from Grandma.
15. Clean out guest room.

I think most of these goals are reasonable and I am looking forward to seeing where they go. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Planning a Birthday Bash!

So, we are turning 30 in July…our original plan to celebrate this big birthday was to go down to DC, rent a fancy hotel room for a couple of nights, and then go into the city to watch the fireworks.  The atrocities we have seen over the past few months at public events made me rethink our plan.  Joshua agreed and we decided having a big birthday party would be more safe & fun.
SO.  The planning.  Totally the best part of a party, in my opinion.  I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to “Pretty Parties,” and this seemed like the right occasion to put some of that Pinteresting to work!
I knew I wanted to make the invitation myself and have it printed instead of just letting everyone know about the party via Facebook or a text.  I wanted it to set the tone of the whole event.  I decided the best way to create the invite would be with a digital scrapbooking kit and PSE.  I went to One Little Bird Designs (she has a clean and classic aesthetic) and immediately fell in love with her Stargazer kit. 
It is so lovely.  And since our birthday is 4 July, I thought the navy and poppy/orange would be a good play on traditional blue & red and still fun for a birthday party.  Early one Saturday morning, I purchased the kit and set out to make the invite. When Joshua got up I had him look it over, made a few changes, and then had it printed through Vista Print.  I will not receive them for a couple of weeks, but that’s okay!
For Blog
I downloaded the fonts from and love the result.  I knew I wanted a mix of print (Bebas) and script (Antrokas) because I think it does a good job of representing hard and soft and Joshua and Ashley.
Now that the colors and “theme” and the invite are out of the way, I am planning other things and writing a million to do lists.  This is such a fun process and I am eager to see where it goes!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Kwanzan Cherry Tree

This is not so much a real post as a HOLY COW, I LOVE THE AWESOME TREES IN MY BACKYARD post.  I really do just want to jump up and down everyday with excitement about these beautiful tress that came with our house.  They make me so happy.  And even Joshua will admit that he is a pretty big fan, too.

This is the view out of the kitchen window.  It’s amazing.


Here are some other shots.  I could have photographed nine zillion angles of this tree all day, but it got a bit cloudy out right after I started.  Bummer!


Lovely, huh?  I am such a fan of spring.

Monday, April 15, 2013

“No effort without error…”

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."

Theodore Roosevelt
"Citizenship in a Republic,"
Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910

I just wanted to throw this out there, because I love this quote.  And T.R.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

On Buying Our House

We weren’t really planning to buy a house.  It sort of came out of nowhere.  We knew we would be in Maryland for a while again and we knew we loved a specific city and our friends lived nearby and that renting would be way more expensive than buying.  We also felt we wanted a property we could rent out if we have to move.  We talked about our price range and decided to look.  There were not many houses in the range we wanted and most of the houses need a HUGE amount of work and were, in general, large houses.  We have lived in a large house.  It is just not for us.  I do not want to spend my life cleaning my house!  Ha ha.  And, we don’t plan to have more than two kids, so small houses were the name of the game.  The realtor was completely surprised by this.  She said, “no one has ever asked me to look at smaller houses.”  For me, smaller house means living more simply, and that is where we want our lives to go. 

We had three or four houses on our list.  The first was one that I was SURE was it.  I had looked at it online and loved the bright kitchen and the neighborhood was great.  Joshua was not convinced and after he saw the schools, he was pretty much whole-heartedly against the house.  I have to admit, I thought the school thing was not too big of a deal and then I thought about advertising a house for rent with terrible schools…um, yeah.  That wouldn’t work.  (To be fair, the schools in our city are some of the best in the country, so bad is relative.)  We looked at the house anyway, and there were some things that I just couldn’t get past.  I like small, but this house was SMALL.  Probably only a bit larger than our apartment.

The second house we looked at was a large house that needed a lot of work.  It was disgusting…the owner’s had not cleaned at all…food on the counters, people?  Really?  We did not stay long.  To do the house any justice, we would have immediately had to put in $50-75K for renovations, which is not something we were willing to do.

The third house is the one we are buying.  We both really love it.  The inside has been completely remodeled (it was a forclosure last year) and while some things need to be updated (the windows on the top floor), overall, it is in great shape. And I like the neighborhood, too.  During the inspection, I saw the neighbors arrive home with their young adult kids and dogs- it was cold outside and they stood there and the whole family played with the dogs.  It was neat and I think they will be great neighbors.  I am sure I will talk a TON more about the house on the blog, so I’ll stop there.  We are excited.

The last house we saw, we reaaaaaaaaaaaaaally wanted.  It was a bit further outside of our favorite city, but on a large piece of land, ranch style, and had some outdoor work sheds and we imagined a whole different type of life.  But it needed sooooooooooooooo much work.  Hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of work.  We were sad.  Someone is getting a gem. 

We saw our house on a Saturday and called the realtor on Monday to say we wanted to make an offer.  Then, Tuesday we went in to put in the offer and the realtor was pretty unhelpful with that.  We had no idea if were offering too much.  Then the owner countered and she still gave us no feedback.  We did what we thought was right and the owner accepted.  We then scheduled the inspection and that was a little crazy.  There were many small things to be taken care of and it seemed overwhelming.  We called my dad and he calmed us down.  He’s great like that.  Then we waited.  And now we are here- the day before closing.  The owner did required repairs last night (!!!) and we are doing our final inspection today hoping he actually did what he was supposed to so we do not have to further delay closing.  He has been QUITE unhelpful throughout this process and I cannot wait to leave a terrible review about his company (they flip houses). 

As for our realtor, she has been very good and bad off and on.  We found her through USAA and thought she would be great (they selected her because she is supposedly really good with first time home buyers…not so much), but she just hasn’t.  The only great thing to come out of that relationship is that her office pays USAA to use them, and when we close, USAA will send us a $1200 check.  But the second we close, I will call USAA to give them an honest and direct account of our experience. 

The really wonderful thing out of all of this is that we have taken everything in stride and supported each other in difficult house buying moments.  And that now we will own a house.  This is a big thing for military people, because we usually aren’t comfortable enough to commit to staying somewhere for a long time.  I am glad we are jumping in! 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

My Office Update

When we move into the house (assuming still that all still goes well…), I will take the smallest room in the house as my office.  When I say small, I mean it…only 8.5X11.  Tiny.  But I kind of see this as a challenge on how to use the space in our house wisely and live on a smaller scale and with less “things.”

One day I was sitting here at my desk and looked over at my pretty pink milk glass vase (this one is from Etsy- mine is actually filled with pencils) and was kind of inspired by the soft pink color.

Pink Milk Glass Vase

I decided the pink color was perfect for my future tiny office.  I am considering a couple of colors- Pink Sea Salt or Ballet Slippers, both by Martha Stewart.  From there on, I just could not get the idea of a clean uncluttered office out of my head.  I put together this little mood board on Olioboard. 

OB-Craft Room

I have two IKEA 4 square EXPEDIT bookcases as the base of my desk now and am using an old door I have had forever as the top.  I am getting the urge to paint the door, though.  The problem with that is the door is imperfect and therefore not only low maintenance, but also no maintenance and painting it would change that.  I did consider that I could get a piece of plexiglass to put over the top.  I also already have shelves, but they do not match and I am liking the idea of floating shelves.  I have two plain white lamps with white shades and I cannot help but think they would be perfect on this big desk flanking the shelves. 

OB-Desk Area

There are some differences of course, but this is my general idea.  I will be adding color in through accessories, so if it is looking a little too soft, it will get better! Anyway, I am pretty surprised that my office is going this direction, but I am really loving the feel.

Monday, February 4, 2013


We have been hunkering down here, staying off Facebook and enjoying life as it comes.  I started my calligraphy class at the Smithsonian last week.  The first class was great.  My calligraphy is far from perfect, but I understand the basics and with some practicing, I know I will improve.  One of my classmates lives close to us so I have someone to ride the Metro home with and that was really nice.  She is a neat lady- a VA doctor and very nice.

A couple of weeks ago, I celebrated 10 years in the Air Force with an iPad and dinner at Jaleo, this amazing restaurant in Washington DC.  We had the Chef’s Experience and let me tell you, it was quite the experience.  The food was creative and interesting and there were new textures.  Fantastic.  The iPad- I am still iffy on it- I just don’t know that I need it.  We’ll see.

The most interesting and fun thing about January?  House hunting.  I have received orders back to Maryland and we decided to take the jump and look for a house.  We are not completely loving living downtown (it’s a lot of work to walk everywhere when it is 19 degrees out and take the cat to the vet (Jack has diabetes…it’s getting better, but still…so many trips to the vet) and in general, everyone is pretty unfriendly), so we are kind of ready to leave.  We ended up finding a house we like right away, so we put in an offer and it was accepted!!  So exciting.  We, of course, still have to wait on the inspection and appraisal, but things are looking good so far and we should be in by March 6th.  I will post pictures after we move in and they take the listing and address off the internet.  The amount of information on the internet about a house AFTER it sells is astonishing to me.  It’s kind of scary, so I want to try to protect that as much as I can.  Not that a ton of people read my blog, but still.

In general, life is crazy right now.  Studying a language, for a promotion, calligraphy, and buying a house.  I am so thankful that my husband has been SO SUPPORTIVE and ENCOURAGING.  It’s been so awesome to see him support me.  I love it.