May
24

Creativity & Resisting the Urge to Splurge

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One of the things I was looking forward to most about buying a house was having a new place to renovate and decorate. Now that we'll be staying here (in the same house we've lived in for the last three years) I feel a bit aimless. Once the nursery is finished, every room will be fully decorated--at least, to the extent that we can change things in our rental. And while that should be a good thing (we can finally relax, right?), it actually makes me feel the opposite: bored and restless. I think part of it is that without new projects to work on and new rooms to decorate, I feel like I won't have any content for this blog. And another part is that I enjoy having a creative outlet that also feels useful. I've always loved "artsy" things, but as I've gotten older, I've had a hard time enjoying hobbies like sketching, painting, or writing, unless they have a practical purpose. I feel guilty using my time "just for fun," like I should be doing laundry or working out or doing something productive instead...lame, I know!

Creativity

For all of the reasons above, I was feeling the urge to start redecorating rooms of our house that are perfectly fine. Should we get a new sofa? A new dining table? A new bed? New things will make this old place feel exciting again, right?! Then Ben gently pointed out that maybe spending a bunch of money on new stuff isn't the solution. Duh, I know...but sometimes it takes an outside perspective to make you realize you're barking up the wrong tree. Soo I'm making a list of ideas I'd like to try this year, to get my creative fix without succumbing to the urge to splurge! Hopefully some of these will also lead to blog content that's genuine to my life, and not contrived for the sake of a post.

1. Learn more about photography, especially people photography (I'm sure I will want to take LOTS of pictures of our baby!)
2. Make a first-year baby book, with photos and notes about milestones, funny stories, etc. Like a scrapbook, but without the hassle of scissors and glue.
3. Write and illustrate a children's book. When I was younger, I wanted to be an author/illustrator when I grew up. Ben has been encouraging me to do that now, even if it's just for us and our kid.
4. Learn to be a better cook. I enjoy cooking, but tend to stick with the same tried-and-true recipes. I'd love to learn how to make some of my favorite restaurant dishes, as well as more creative/flavorful/unique recipes--especially since this year we are trying to eat out less.
5. Travel more! The silver lining of not buying a house is that we're a lot more free to travel. I'm hoping we can take a few trips to new destinations this year! Traveling isn't necessarily a creative outlet, but it does always spark the imagination.

There are also lots of creative ventures that I've ruled out. Sewing doesn't seem worth the effort of learning, since I can usually buy clothes for less than the cost of fabric. Gardening also doesn't really interest me, at least while we're still in a rental. And from taking my weekly bump photos, I can definitely tell you that I won't become a fashion blogger anytime soon. ;)

That said, I'm really open to other ideas! What are some ways that you guys stay creative? I'm looking forward to stretching my creative muscles this year, and developing some hobbies that aren't related to decorating. After all, it's not like we can just up and move every time we finish decorating a house!

4 COMMENTS
May
18

House Hunting: Good Things Take Time

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They say patience is a virtue, but it's certainly not easy. We started house hunting earlier this year, hoping to find a house that we could realistically afford and see ourselves living in for the long haul. We came close a couple of times (with this house in particular), but every house that seemed like a "maybe?!" turned into a "nope, never mind," for various reasons. So for now, it seems, we are in the season of waiting. Waiting patiently (or not-so-patiently) for that Goldilocks house that is juuuust right in price, size, and location. Luckily, the house we're renting is big enough for now. But I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed to put the dream on hold for a bit longer! As much as I'm grateful for our rental, I'm sooo ready to have a place of our own, a home that we can invest in and make changes to. Anyone who knows me, knows that I love houses...so I've been itching to jump into homeownership for years. And I admit, getting pregnant totally accelerated that. But I have faith that the right house will come along, and when it does we'll be so glad that we didn't desperately rush into something that was too small or too expensive for us. Good things take time, right?

Living room

That's not to say we've suspended the house hunt altogether. We're still looking and keeping an eye out for our house to come on the market. But we did renew our lease for another year, and we decided that we're ok with renting for as long as it takes. We definitely don't want to get into a crazy bidding war and overpay for a house that we don't even love, just because of emotions and fear of missing out. And I've never liked the concept of "starter houses." I'm not saying our first house has to be my dream house, but it's gotta be something we're excited about, and big enough that we won't outgrow it in just a few years. Plus, we've been reading lots of articles predicting that the housing market (especially in "frothy" areas like Seattle) may be nearing another peak. Who knows if that's true or not, but for now, we're gonna wait it out.

Living room

House hunting

Buying a house is a scary thing! It's a BIG deal and a whole lot of money and uncertainty. I've seen articles that say "2016 is THE year to buy! Get a house now or you'll be priced out of the market forever!" and on the flip side, I've seen articles that say "The real estate bubble is about to pop!" We're not economists, and we have no idea who's right. So we're just gonna do what feels right for us and trust that it will all work out.

Gallery wall

So, all that to say we renewed our lease and will be staying in this little rental for a little while longer! It's not as exciting as getting the keys to a new house and launching into a bunch of remodeling projects. But hey, we're having a baby in a few months so maybe that's enough major life changes for the year. :)

For anyone else who has been house hunting this year, I'd love to know...what has your experience been? And what part of the country (or the world) do you live in?

6 COMMENTS
May
13

Chapter 27

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Today, I'm 27 years old and 27 weeks pregnant! Birthdays always make me pause and reflect on the year that's passed and my goals for the one ahead. And when I look back on 26, I have so many amazing memories...it was a great year! Here are my top 10:

peonies

(Unrelated photo of peonies from my Instagram)

1. Finding out I was pregnant! We misread the pregnancy test at first and thought it was negative...then we realized it was actually positive and I started crying. But I was also skeptical--so I made Ben take me to the store to buy another test, just in case I messed up on the first one. Sure enough, it was positive too!

2. Seeing our baby on the ultrasound. Our 19 weeks anatomy ultrasound was like the best movie ever! Laying there, watching our baby kick and wave (and finding out the gender) was really, really special. We have another ultrasound appointment on Monday, and I can't wait to see him again!

3. Feeling our baby kick. This has been my favorite part of pregnancy so far...feeling our baby's little (and lately, not so little) kicks. They reassure me everyday that he's still alive and kicking, literally.

4. Watching the Northern Lights. Obviously, the baby-related stuff is high on my list. But our trip to Europe was also an amazing, unforgettable part of this year. It's hard to pick favorites, but I'd have to say standing on the deck of our hotel wrapped in a blanket, watching the Northern Lights dance across the sky on our last night in Iceland, was pretty special.

5. Relaxing in the private Blue Lagoon. This was also on our last night in Iceland. We stayed at the Blue Lagoon Hotel, which has a private lagoon that is smaller than the big touristy one...but way nicer, since we basically had it to ourselves. It was the perfect way to cap off that part of the trip and reflect on all the amazing things we'd seen so far, while looking forward to the next destination. It didn't hurt that were basically in a giant, beautifully blue hot tub in the middle of some lava fields, with a perfectly clear night sky full of stars above.

6. Eating gelato by the water in Cinque Terre. Cinque Terre was the part of Italy that I had anticipated the most, and it did not disappoint. My favorite memory was after the cruise boats left for the day, when the town got quiet again. We'd get gelato (the best I've ever had!) and sit on the rocks down by the water, listening the waves lap against the shore and watching the fishermen pull in their boats.

7. Taking a boat ride down the Seine while eating macarons. This is probably my favorite memory from France. The first thing we did in Paris (after checking into our Airbnb) was get a box of Laduree macarons and head to the Seine for a tour down the river. It was in the evening, as the sun set and the sky turned pink...which was perfect timing because we got to see all the landmarks in the daylight on the towards the Eiffel Tower and lit up on the way back. Glimpsing so many famous places and eating Laduree macarons for the first time (while on a boat in Paris!) was truly memorable.

8. Seeing the Eiffel Tower twinkling at night. My other favorite memory from France was the night we had a picnic at the Eiffel Tower and saw it all lit up and twinkling for the first time. Can you tell there's something about nighttime that I find magical? Haha. It was the same day we went to Versailles and we got back pretty late in the afternoon, so we had to walk really fast in order to make it to the Eiffel Tower in time. We had done so much walking that day, my feet seriously hurt on the way back...but it was worth it.

9. Getting a new job that lets me work from home. Besides baby stuff and vacation stuff (which could fill up a much longer list all on their own), my favorite part of this year was getting a new job that is way more flexible. It's been such a blessing with all my doctor's appointments, to have a job that lets me work from home and arrange my schedule to fit my life.

10. Starting to look for a house. Lastly, although the process has been frustrating and discouraging at times, I'm still excited that we are at the stage of life where we are actually looking to buy a house! It's something I've dreamed about for so long, and I'm proud of us for getting everything ready on our end, even if we haven't actually found "the one" yet.

And now, I'm ready for the next chapter! My goals are still basically the same as they were in January: prioritize people, buy a house, start a family, travel, and take care of my health. With a baby on the way, at least one of those will definitely happen--and with it, lots of big life changes! I'm ready, 27. Let's do it.

2 COMMENTS
May
11

10 IKEA Pieces Worth Getting

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Our IKEA is really far away, and Ben is not a big fan of shopping...so for me to convince him that it's worth the hour+ trek, we gotta have some items on our list that are really worth the trouble. In fact, we haven't been there in three years! So I figured maybe it's time, especially since I've heard good things about a number of their baby items. I browsed through their website and picked out a few pieces that I really like...and I'm sure a few more might catch my eye in the store. I know this is kind of contradictory to the post I wrote last week about getting rid of junk and being really conscientious about every new purchase, though. What do you think? Are any of these items worth getting? Am I letting cheap prices tempt me into buying stuff I don't really need?

For baby

IKEA gems for baby

LEKA wooden baby gym - It seems like most wooden play gyms (especially the pretty ones) are around $100. So at $30, this one is definitely a deal. I also found a DIY tutorial for making it more minimalistic, if you're not a fan of the colors.

BLÅMES high chair - My favorite high chair is the Stokke Tripp Trapp, but it ain't cheap (nearly $300). This $60 IKEA chair seems like a good alternative that is still fairly attractive and design-conscious. Then again, we won't need a high chair for quite awhile, so maybe it's silly to buy one now and store it for that long...

MULA wooden crane - I love wooden toys, and IKEA has a number of cute ones that are fairly cheap. This one is $15.

RENS sheepskin - Sheepskin and babies just seem to go together, don't you think? I think it's because sheepskin is such a soft surface, plus it has interesting texture for photos and is just the right size for a baby. Worth $30?

MULA wooden stacking toy - Another cute wooden toy! At $8, it's considerably cheaper than the stacking toys I've seen at other stores.

For the home

IKEA gems for the home

FLÅDIS basket - Ok, it's harder for me to justify purchases for the home because we are already bursting at the seams. But I really LOVE these baskets. They're perfect for holding plants or storing blankets, toys, etc. And they're only $10!

STOCKHOLM mirror - I don't actually need a new mirror for my house, but thought I'd include this in case any of you are in the market for a stylish-yet-inexpensive ($100) mirror. My sister-in-law has this one in her entryway, and it's beautiful!

SINNERLIG plant pot - Another thing I don't really need. But for some reason, I keep collecting more vases and planters! I love the simple, modern shape of this $14 beauty...and the matte black color is really nice too.

ALSEDA woven pouf - At $30, this is a great option for a stylish pouf or footstool. Stack two for even more versatility.

ELLY dish towels - Last but not least, IKEA is a great place to pick up kitchen textiles like dish towels. These are only $4 for a 4-pack! You could use them as cloth napkins, too.

What do you think? Is an IKEA trip in order? Or should I wait and see how much stuff I still "need" once our baby arrives? Any other IKEA gems that you would recommend?

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