Canceling Cable

2013 was an expensive year for us, with hospital bills, unexpected costs of raising a child (newsflash: they’re expensive!), and just generally boring adult stuff that added up. Over the last few years we have cut back significantly on holiday spending, we rarely eat out anymore, I haven’t bought many new clothes for myself at all in the past year, and neither of us has a habit like smoking or Starbucks that adds up over time — but we were were still feeling stretched.

I have always justified the cost of cable by saying that it was our main source of entertainment, given that we rarely go to restaurants anymore and I can’t even remember the last time Nick and I saw a movie together. It was how we treated ourselves! We deserved something, right?

…Then I got a Verizon bill in December that was our first since our initial two year promotion ended, and I thought that maybe justifications like that were why we were feeling so stretched financially. I decided to really look at how much money we’d be spending on cable over the course of a year — and it wasn’t just cable, but also DVR and a landline that were part of our bundle — and see if we could cut back.

Here’s where it gets sticky and the cable companies suck you in: at first I asked about only canceling our landline that we really never use, but doing so would actually not change our bill at all AND it would take away our “free multi-room DVR for life” promotion. (The “free” part of that is of course not REALLY free, because we were still paying each month to rent the DVR boxes, but I digress.) So we’d be paying the same amount with less to show for it.

Grumble grumble grumble.

I thought about it for a few days and called again to discuss a few other scenarios — what if we drop the landline and change our cable to a package with less channels? What if we drop the landline and (gasp) get rid of the DVR that I love and adore? What if we only have one DVR because in reality we hardly ever use the one in the bedroom? The person on the other end of the line patiently ran through several scenarios with me, but the end result was always pretty much the same: we would cut out quite a bit but barely make a dent in our bill. (And that’s how they convince us all to get all of those things in the first place.)

It was then that we decided to take a drastic measure and do something I never thought we could do: we canceled cable altogether.

Yup, me: TV lover and pop culture aficionado, without cable. Take a moment to let that sink in.

But you know what? It’s been a full month now, and it turns out that it’s not so bad. I still have plenty to watch, and I’m wasting less time watching junk just for the sake of watching television, so there is even a huge bonus to our new set-up.

We still get all network stations in HD, plus PBS and a few random stations, with the bare-bones “local” package from Verizon that goes along with our FIOS internet (it costs the same as if we only had internet, so kind of a no-brainer). We already had AppleTV, my Christmas present to Nick a few years ago, which we use to watch Netflix and listen to music through our television; there are also AppleTV apps for ABC, PBS, and some others. As I mentioned, we have Netflix streaming, which is $7.99 a month, and, to be able to watch current shows more quickly after they air since we rarely have a chance to watch them when they’re live, we decided to also subscribe to Hulu Plus, also $7.99 a month. This is essentially a replacement for DVR since almost everything we used to record is available on Hulu Plus.

For shows that are not available on Hulu or Netflix, chances are they are available online. One of my guiltiest pleasures is Pretty Little Liars (yes, I am, in fact, a fourteen-year old girl), and it is available on ABCFamily.com or the ABC Family app the day after it airs.

Wondering how that all adds up? Here’s the math…

Money saved by cutting cable, DVR and landline: $73 per month (including taxes)
Cost of Netflix and HuluPlus: $15.98 per month

TOTAL SAVINGS PER MONTH: $57.02
TOTAL SAVINGS PER YEAR: $684.24

We’re still enjoying the same shows we always did, so I’d say that’s a big WIN all around. I honestly hardly notice the difference, and I waste much less time watching episodes of Friends on TBS that I’ve already seen 15 times. As much as I love Friends, my time is too valuable to watch the same episode for the 16th time, amiright?

Have you taken the plunge and canceled cable? Or have you taken any other drastic measures to save money?

Coming up for air

It has been a very long time since I’ve blogged. It turns out that balancing a family and a business leaves little time for much else, and I’m pretty okay with that most days. But then there are days when I miss doing things for myself — reading, baking, creating (non-work things), and blogging are at the top of the list. I make promises to myself to get back into some old hobbies, and then Graham looks at me with puppy dog eyes, hands me a book to read to him as he crawls into my lap, and my hobbies go out the window again — because, really, what’s more important than spending time with my littlest best friend?

(Skip ahead to a few days later when I yearn for some hobbies again, puppy dog eyes, yada yada yada… rinse and repeat.)

I don’t typically get into New Years resolutions, but after the fog that was the first few months of parenthood in late 2012, to the full year of adjustments, kidney stones (yup, again!) and hospital bills that was 2013, I’m ready for 2014 to be a brighter and more goal-oriented year. Graham was a daily bright spot in my life, of course, but I still need to take some time for myself this year to be a better mom, wife, friend and designer. Even small things go a long way in helping my sanity and well-being. On the top of my list:

• finish reading Mockingjay, which I was in the middle of reading when Graham was born and I never picked it up again. Oops! I’d also like to read more in general.
• Get back into an exercise routine. (Damn you, Exercise, for being necessary, because I truly loathe you in the hours leading up to you… and then feel a million times better afterwards. You’re a jerk, exercise.)
• Re-learn knitting and get better at it. My mother-in-law taught me how to knit years ago, and after making scarves for everyone I know, I abandoned it and never learned how to make anything more interesting. I’d like to give it another shot.
• See some live theatre again, and maybe volunteer at our local theatre. Tickets can get expensive so this isn’t something I’ve done for quit some time, but I really miss going to shows and being part of a theatre community.
• Blog more. First I need to redesign this blog that I strongly dislike, which will motivate me to write more. I need to write down post ideas before they escape me, yet at the same time stop caring if it’s perfect or interesting before I post it. Because who cares? I like having readers, but I also blog because I like doing it. Whether I have 5 or 5,000 readers shouldn’t really matter.

What have you been up to lately, friends? Any goals for 2014?

the homestretch

Well now. How did that happen? All of a sudden I’m two days away from my due date, and soon enough there will actually be another person in our family! It’s all a little surreal and I’m sure I still won’t truly believe it until we are settled into our new roles as mom and dad. Oh, who am I kidding — I’m sure there will be moments of disbelief for years to come! I mean: us, parents?? Get outta here!

Aside from a pretty miserable, exhaustion- and nausea-filled first trimester, I have to say that the rest of pregnancy has been pretty good to me. Once I got my energy and appetite back in the second trimester, I felt great. There were certainly a few miserable days (particularly during one of the several heatwaves we saw roll through this summer), but since I work from home and have the luxury of not going anywhere if I don’t need to, it wasn’t all that awful. It helps to have a husband who is willing to do all the food shopping when his wife cries at the thought of stepping foot outside on a 98 degree day!

Being pregnant in the summer does get a bad rap, but if you don’t have to be outside too much, I swear it has its bonuses. Example: being able to slip on loose flip flops every day when your feet are swollen is way better than having to zip up tight winter boots. Or having the ability to throw on a light dress or a tunic and leggings every day instead of a heavy winter coat that has to fit over your big belly. Or the ability to float in a pool and feel weightless for a while :) It truly wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. Dare I say it, I enjoyed it. (As long as there was central air. No central air, no bueno.)

So yes, along the way I have become one of those women who enjoys being pregnant — I never thought that would happen. And two days before my due date, I am feeling great and honestly not in a rush to get it over with if he decides to stay put for a few more days. I’m excited to meet him, but also enjoying soaking up the last days before our lives change forever. Please don’t hate me, other pregnant women who are over it!

This was a week ago at 38 weeks and some odd days. And this is pretty much my uniform: leggins and a tunic. This isn’t even a maternity tunic — I got it at Target last summer and I now wear it an embarrassing amount. I have an excuse, right?

My biggest cravings have been fruit and pretty much anything with fruit in the name or ingredients. Real fruit, lemonade, fruit snacks, fruity popsicles, orange soda, apple sauce. Fruit, fruit, and more fruit. I have also partaken in plenty of chocolate and salty snacks, so I am, by all means, an equal opportunity craver.

The nursery is mostly done (save for curtains and a rug, which we really don’t need and I’ll get around to getting eventually), and it is most definitely my favorite room in the house. We finally got ourselves a fancy dSLR camera, but I need a better wide angle lens before I can share the room’s true awesomeness with you. Until then, here’s a sneak peek!

So now… we just wait. It’s hard to believe that this journey is almost over, and the next one is about to begin. There were times when I felt like he would never get here! I’m a little terrified of labor and all of the unknowns and worries that come along with parenting, but mostly I’m excited for Nick and I to meet the new love of our lives.

happiness and sadness: a story of parallels

At nearly 23 weeks pregnant, the reality of what’s to come is setting in more each day. I have a growing belly, and I feel kicks (so many kicks!) pretty regularly now. I may actually believe that there’s a person growing inside of me now, whereas for so long it seemed like it would never really be REAL. I had a somewhat miserable, nauseous and exhausting first trimester, and while at that time I couldn’t possibly understand those women who claimed to loooooove being pregnant, I must say that I’m enjoying it much more at the moment. No, I don’t enjoy the middle-of-the-night bathroom breaks, or the back pain, or the expanding boobs, or feeling completely winded every time I go up stairs — but overall, I can finally grasp their enjoyment just a bit more.

The reality is that despite the negatives, I’m just so grateful to be pregnant. Because last November, Nick and I suffered the unimaginable loss of our first baby. On November 10, 2011, at ten weeks pregnant, I was told by a very apologetic stranger that our baby no longer had a heartbeat.

It was shocking, devastating, heartbreaking, unimaginably bad news.

I had had no symptoms of a miscarriage — the heartbeat simply stopped. On November 11, I went through the terrible process of having a D&C. The hospital staff was incredibly nice and sympathetic, but waiting around for hours on an empty stomach in a paper hospital gown and ugly socks that did nothing to keep the rest of my shivering body warm, all for a fifteen minute procedure, was not my idea of a good time. I just wanted to crawl into bed and cry and eat ice cream and be with my husband. It was a horrible, horrible day.

The weirdest thing about the D&C was that when the anesthesia wore off and I woke up, I didn’t feel like anything had happened. If you hadn’t told me why I was there, I wouldn’t have known. I essentially just felt like I went to sleep pregnant, and woke up knowing I was no longer pregnant. It was very strange, and very disheartening. I felt no pain or physical discomfort — I simply just wasn’t pregnant anymore.

Ironically, the day that followed, November 12, was the “Meet Ginger” party my mom and I had planned for extended family and family friends who had not yet met my niece. Nick and I got through the party, and it was actually a good distraction to talk to people who were mostly oblivious to what we were going through (save for the obvious immediate family members), but it was also very draining at the end of the day. I love my niece more than anything, but there’s no avoiding that the timing of this celebration was painful.

The weeks that followed were not great. It’s amazing how attached you can become to something in such a short period of time, but we never thought the worst would happen to us, so why wouldn’t we have gotten attached? I had what I referred to as “the sads” for a while; so did Nick. We usually took turns having bad days, which allowed one of us to be the strong one while the other was a mess. I got through Thanksgiving with Nick’s huge extended family okay, but simply could not stop crying the next day and had to stay in bed while Nick explained to everyone at their day-after leftover extravaganza why I wasn’t there. We moved on December 2, which was pretty much the worst timing ever. Suddenly the bedroom that was supposed to become the nursery was just another bedroom, and we were buried under boxes that we didn’t have the emotional energy to unpack.

We had already agreed to keep Christmas low-key with our families, so thankfully we did not have to do a lot of holiday prepping. We all bought gifts for my niece, Ginger, but otherwise kept it pretty simple. I don’t think I could have handled much more that month. Nick and I exchanged gifts that were thoughtful but not overly elaborate, and we were both blubbering messes while opening them; they felt like hopeful tears at that point, though, and we just felt lucky to have each other.

Things started to look up a little bit around Christmas as we continued to cope but felt a little more of a push to move on with our daily lives; while the doctor had advised us to wait a few cycles to try again, we (ignorantly?) didn’t really listen.

On January 4, I just felt a little different. I felt like something was up. After the third or fourth night of having really weird, vivid dreams (which I had had during my first pregnancy), I sent Nick out for a pregnancy test and my hopeful suspicions were confirmed. I was pregnant again!

We were happy… but not yet excited. We just couldn’t let ourselves be hurt again and we didn’t want to set ourselves up for disappointment and heartbreak. I suddenly felt really dumb and worried that maybe we should have heeded the doctor’s advice and waited, even though I was given a clean bill of health shortly after the D&C — I didn’t want to put myself or our baby in any danger.

Fortunately, everything seemed to be okay and, now almost 23 weeks in, I can say that it has been a fairly uneventful (in the best way possible) pregnancy. I know how immensely lucky we are that it happened again so quickly — I know some people try for years with no success, and here I was, pregnant again less than two months after a miscarriage. We have not let our good fortune go unnoticed.

We were cautiously optimistic for so long at the beginning of this pregnancy, but hearing the heartbeat at 10 weeks felt like the biggest milestone ever and we finally let ourselves celebrate a little. Seeing our baby bouncing around at the 12 week ultrasound was unreal; learning that “it” is a healthy little “he” at our 20 week ultrasound was downright euphoric. And it finally started to feel really, really real.

But… there’s always a but…

The joy of this pregnancy and this baby has not washed away the sadness of the first baby that we lost. Not at all. It’s something I never would have understood had someone explained it to me a year ago, but now that I’ve lived through it, the best way I can explain it is that our sadness and our happiness both exist and are parallel to one another. After all, when someone dies, we don’t just find a replacement for them; this situation is no different. While this pregnancy happened so quickly after the miscarriage, it does not erase the memory of what we lost. We’ll never forget that first baby. We are still overcome with sadness sometimes for the little one we’ll never meet, regardless of how elated we are to meet this new little one in September.

I often see other women who are further along than I am and the memories of my first first trimester and those horrible days of bad news and surgery come flooding back. I was supposed to be them. June 6, my first due date, will be a very sad day this year. Will the joy of our baby’s birth in September overshadow that? Of course. But it won’t make it go away. It’s not that simple.

A miscarriage is truly the loss of a loved one — there just isn’t that physical recognition of the person being mourned. So many people keep it private and never tell those they surround themselves with what they are going through. We decided to approach our miscarriage as we would any other devastating loss — we told people. We told the family and friends who knew we were pregnant, and we eventually told the family and friends who had not yet known we were pregnant. And honestly, it was the best thing we ever could have done for ourselves. Friends brought us food so we didn’t have to think about cooking when all we wanted to do was sit and cry. People sent cards and checked in on us. Friends and family cried with us and let us cry to them. We weren’t looking for pity, but feeling the love and sympathy from those around us was really important.

I joked with friends at one point that, while we were talking about it, I wasn’t going to post about the miscarriage on my blog or anything. But after several months of perspective and hearing so many stories of people I know who went through the same thing but never talked about it, I thought that maybe sharing our story would help someone else. Talking about it is not easy or fun, but for us it was the best therapy we could have asked for during a very sad time.

coming soon.

I’ve really fallen behind on a lot of things lately: blogging, decorating our new place, keeping in touch with friends. But, I have a very good excuse.

I’ve been keeping a secret.

A secret that, for quite a while, sucked a lot of energy out of me. I have a feeling it will all have been worth it in another 22 weeks, though…

We’ll be meeting our little one in September, and we are so excited!

I’m officially getting into nesting mode (read: feeling annoyed at every little thing that is not yet “complete” in our new place) so I’ll be sharing some decorating progress soon, now that I finally have some energy back. I’m sure I’ll also have some updates on other baby preparation-type things in the near future, including registering for a bunch of stuff that we have no idea yet what to do with! It should be an adventure, for sure.

a pop of red

I’ve been excited to decorate our new place… yet terrified at the same time. I’ve never felt like I have a knack for decorating like I do designing something on a page. Committing to a piece of furniture makes me a nervous wreck. I gravitate towards colors and patterns and usually buy things accordingly, but then I get them home and realize they’re not right for the space, way too loud, or have no relationship to anything else in the space. More often than not, I am tired of it in five minutes and regret making such bold choices.

I’m trying a new approach where I set some guidelines for myself, don’t buy anything impulsively, and if I see something that looks bold and awesome — I realllllly think about it (and usually end up realizing it’s too much and I need to scale it back a bit). So far, so good.

For the walls, I fell in love with Benjamin Moore’s Palladian Blue… but then, after painting a handful of test swatches throughout the first floor and upstairs hallway (which would all eventually be painted the same color), I realized it was waaaaayy too much blue. After a few more Goldilocks trials and errors — you know, this one’s too bold, this one’s too boring, etc. — I landed upon Sherwin Williams Sea Salt, a muted grayish blueish green (that’s the technical description). It was perfect.

We already have charcoal grey couches which will stay, along with a coffee table that Nick made, but we need some other pieces to tie everything together… and that’s where I get stuck.

Enter: Design*Sponge At Home by Grace Bonney, editor of the Design*Sponge blog. I got a copy of this book a few months ago when I attended a signing at Terrain (Grace was super nice, by the way!), and it has become my decorating bible as of late. I love that pretty much all of the sneak peeks featured in the book are far from what you’d call matchy-matchy, yet they still have a very pulled together look despite being very eclectic. So many of them speak to me and remind me why I’ve never been drawn to buying matching sets of furniture.

In deciding how to decorate the downstairs of our new home, I looked for rooms in the book that had similar wall colors to Sea Salt, and just rooms that I generally liked. After browsing a handful of pages one afternoon, it struck me that so many rooms had one great thing in common: amidst calming neutrals, there was often a distinct pop of red that stood out as a focal point, and really tied the room together. Don’t believe me? Here are just a few rooms found on Design*Sponge (the blog this time):

image 1 // image 2 // image 3 // image 4

Coincidentally, a lovely friend also gave us a gorgeous red cast iron trivet as a housewarming gift, and I was sold. Pops of red — yes! Why didn’t I think of it sooner?

Thus, our color palette was born: mostly warm neutrals, with pops of teal (I mean, I’m still me, after all) and fire engine red. It looks pretty subdued to me here, but I think that’s a good sign that I won’t get sick of it in five minutes.

I’m thinking a red statement lamp would be perfect sitting atop this pedestal end table that was my nana’s and just came to live with us over the weekend:

We have yet to hang anything on the walls and I’m sure many more colors will come into play then — but having this new red revelation has me excited to decorate so it looks like grownups live here. Grownups who have an eclectic yet pulled-together style.

What’s your decorating method?

it’s been so long!

Oh hey, late November. What’s up?

We just returned from spending Thanksgiving with Nick’s family, and there was no shortage of mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, or leftover turkey for making delicious moist maker sandwiches. It’s been so long since I posted that I don’t really know where to begin as I attempt (yet again) to blog a bit more regularly! How about a numbered list of mundane details? Yes, that sounds exciting!

1.) We’re moving. After seven years in the same apartment. And I loathe, loathe, loathe moving. Perhaps that’s why I haven’t done it in seven years. But yeah, Saturday is the big day, and I’m dreading it, but hopefully everything will go smoothly (with the help of some great friends and family and a rented UHaul). I’m expecting the month of December to be a bit chaotic, but I’m hoping that we’ll feel somewhat settled upon the new year.

2.) We’re still going to be renting. After house-hunting a bit, we were still a bit nervous to buy. Everyone will tell you that “it’s a buyer’s market” until they’re blue in the face, but that still doesn’t mean it’s the right time for everyone to buy. The reality is that it’s going to be a buyer’s market for a loooong time. For now, we were anxious to have a bit more space (especially storage), a little yard, central air (I’ll crank that baby UP when the time comes) and off-street parking, so in order to get some upgrades while we wait for the perfect house to come along at a time that’s right for us, continuing to rent was our best option. We’re looking forward to be moving into our new house which has lots of charm (and a basement for STORAGE!), plus, renting has its perks: when something breaks, we can just call the landlord :) I’m sure there will be some DIY decorating posts in this blog’s near future, so stay tuned.

3.) I’ve still been blogging regularly, just not here! I blog once or twice a week over on the Cog Blog, the official blog of Curious & Co. Occasionally we post about our own work and goings on, but we also blog about cool and interesting finds in the design world. Have you been reading?

4.) That segues me into the exciting news that we now have an online shop for our new Curious & Co. stationery products! You’ll find some colorful note cards (sneak peek above) in stock now, but check back very soon for even more papery goodness.

5.) Ginger is now seven months old and I can’t even handle the cuteness. I’m resisting the urge to spoil that little niece of mine rotten when Christmas rolls around. We can’t wait to spend Christmas morning with her.

That’s about all for me… I have a few more posts in mind for the coming week if I’m not buried under boxes (but I guess I shouldn’t make any promises). I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving!

101 in 1001: the verdict

Remember in early 2009 when I began the 101 in 1001 project with gusto and determination? Well, 1001 days came and went faster than I ever imagined they could, and my 101 in 1001 officially ended last month.

The verdict? I completed 58 out of 101 items.

I’m happy with this number and proud of myself. I did a lot of things I may not have attempted had I not set the goal for myself, which is awesome. There are also a bunch of things I didn’t do, either because they became not as important to me after 2.5 years, they were difficult to keep track of (like doing something X number of times in X days/weeks), or I simply didn’t have the time for them. There are some things I’d still like to accomplish soon, like plan better for retirement, finish (or start!) putting together some photo albums, and be better about keeping in touch with my friends who live far away, so I’ll continue keeping those things on my radar.

Not to toot my own horn, but I also think it’s worth mentioning that I accomplished some things that weren’t ever on my list, like getting published (in a little magazine called Martha Stewart Weddings) and becoming an aunt! Okay, so I didn’t put a lot of work into that last one, but if spending time with my niece prevented me from checking more things off my list, I can certainly handle that. Spending a week playing with her down the shore was much more fulfilling than watching all of AFI’s top 100 movies, without a doubt.

I’m not sure if I’ll create another 101 in 1001 list, but I do like the idea of having a physical list of goals to stay motivated. Have you done your own 101 in 1001 project, or something similar? What was the outcome for you?

If you’re curious, below is my original list with completed items marked in yellow! You can also learn more about the project on my original post.

Continue reading

living simply to live fully

I’ve gotten out of the habit of blogging regularly for a small handful of reasons:

1. I am reaaaaally busy with work. As Martha says, “it’s a good thing!” I am grateful, but let’s be honest: I am tired. Really freakin’ tired.

2. I don’t feel like we’ve done many super exciting things lately, and while I’m certainly not complaining and I’m enjoying my summer very much, I don’t know that anything I have to share is particularly interesting to anyone else. (To be completely honest, pretty much all I want to post about is my adorable niece 24/7, but alas, I resist.)

3. I’m sick of this blog design and ready for something new… I just haven’t had the time to tackle a new design. The curse of being a designer — never completely happy with anything and always wanting to change/improve upon things.

4. I started to feel like a hypocrite posting about cool products and clothes that I have no intention of buying. And I guess that’s the big one.

While I have my moments of wishing we had a house and wishing I could shop like I used to for cute clothes and wishing we could travel more, I am still very at peace with my decision to take the leap to self-employment early last year and the sacrifices that came with that choice. I know it will pay off, and exciting developments and growth have already happened in the year and a half since we started the business, so that’s a great motivation to keep going full steam ahead. The changes, however, have greatly opened my eyes to just how frivolous I used to be with my money, and how much more I truly value every penny now.

If I won the lottery five years ago, I probably would have bought a huge house that I would have filled up with a lot of stuff and gone clothes shopping to my heart’s content. If I won the lottery tomorrow… okay, who am I kidding: I’d still splurge a bit. But I now genuinely have no desire to have a closet that is overflowing with clothes and shoes, or a house bustling with stuff. I still value high quality items very much, and of course I’d like to have a few more of them, but I have seen a lot of value over these last few years in living more simply. I’m really starting to believe the whole “less is more” theory.

When I used to shop for new clothes pretty regularly and could never fully close my dresser drawers, I can bet that I still had the same 10 or so outfits on regular rotation. I’ve never been very good at playing with fashion (though I’d love to have a knack for putting pieces together), and I’m a creature of habit, so it makes sense that I would remain pretty content with a handful of favorite standbys, intermixed with some other less-worn items. It’s not much different now that I shop less and have weeded out a lot of clothes I don’t wear — I just have fewer of the less-worn items taking up space in my dresser.

I used to buy stuff — just random, random stuff — all the time. Now, I really think about if something is going to add value to my life, my space, and my time. Will it lose its cool factor the minute something goes from my shopping cart to my living space, where it is really only taking up space? I hate buying any old gift for someone just because it’s their birthday or Christmas and I’m “supposed” to. I love giving gifts, but I like to give things that are actually useful to the recipient, rather than just something that’s going to get shoved in a closet and forgotten about.

I have learned a lot from my brother and sister-in-law. While having a baby has added a few more possessions to their space, they are still very strategic and thoughtful about bringing any item into their home. It is a beautiful home, generously sized by New York standards, but modestly sized by mainstream standards (particularly to we suburbanites who are used to more space). They don’t have a lot of room for clutter, so they choose their possessions carefully. It makes the things they do have that much more meaningful, and each and every item is there for a reason.

I turned 31 last week (yay?) and aside from a super cool bike and a super cool dSLR, I could not think of a single thing that I really, truly wanted. I looked through my blog wish list, my Pinterest wish list, and thought about it for about a week. In the end, Nick took me out to a nice dinner, my mom got me some gift cards for dining out while we’re down the shore, and I was perfectly content. (Okay, I would have loved to get the bike or the dSLR, but I don’t really expect anyone to spend that much money on me.) I have everything I need, and many things that I don’t need. Too much beyond that is just excess that is adding zero value to my life and taking away from my ability to live fully — free of physical distractions cluttering up my space and, ultimately, my thoughts.

I see items on blogs and Pinterest that are really cool pretty much every day. But I feel a little silly sharing these items with my readers when I am really leaning towards living more simply these days. I’m sure some items will pique my interest enough that I’ll share them with you, and maybe I’m just going through a particularly cynical phase; but rather than just looking for things to post about for the sake of posting something, I’ll probably put more focus on blogging about the things that really, truly interest me.

This is not the first time you’ve heard me ramble about uncluttering my life and my space, but it is a topic worth repeating as it’s something I think about a lot lately. What do you think about the idea of living simply to live fully? Is it the way you live? If so, have you always been a less-is-more person, or have you become one over time?

(And okay fine, just one picture of Ginger with her Aunt Brooke and Uncle Nick, for good measure.)

falling in and out of love

I fall in love with houses a little too easily. I tend to be a glass-half-full kinda girl and I pretty easily see the charm and potential in a home that someone else might immediately write off. As Nick and I have begun house hunting, I’ve realized how my optimism and vision can become a little dangerous, because there is much more to a home than a pretty staircase and a great linen closet.

Like a new roof, a sump pump and expensive kitchen appliances.

But you’re just so cute….won’t you be mine?
(Not one of the actual houses we were considering, but gosh she’s pretty.)

In the last month, I’ve fallen in love with two houses that I thought would become ours. I dreamed about them, crunched the numbers to be sure we could make it work, and asked our realtor a million and one questions.

And then, we let them go.

The first house was easier to let go of because we realized we didn’t love the location, and it didn’t have central air. I have come to accept the fact that central air is a pretty big priority for me….eight years of noisy, rattling window air conditioners during sweltering east coast summers will do that to you.

The second house was a little harder to bid adieu to. It was right next to a park, in a town we love, and in a perfectly central location for everywhere we like (or have) to go often. It was in great condition, had central air and everything else house #1 didn’t have, and was priced just a tad higher. We probably could have made it work….but “probably” is not really the word you want to use when you’re talking about such a huge commitment, is it?

The thing is that buying a house is SCARY… and we’re not quite ready yet. Financially, the last few years have been a little wacky for us, and although I think we’ve passed our adulthood financial responsibility test with flying colors (ie., paying off all credit card debt and a vehicle in the midst of unemployment [him] and then self-employment [me]), we need a few more months to be 100% sure that we can do it.

So….I’m not allowed to look at Realtor.com again until at least July. I am sure the right house will be out there for us when we’re ready, but until then I’ll remain just a little sad about the houses that weren’t. Sniff, sniff.

Have you ventured into the world of home buying?