Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Rule of Fours

I got this post idea from on of my favorite bloggers, Erin. Just some small things about me that you may or may not know. Hope you enjoy this random little post.

4 Jobs I've Had
1. Working in a preschool-both in the infant room and the toddler room. Favorite job to date.
2. Tutoring Math at a Math Learning Center. My love of math and kids in one job.
3. Working at Hollister Co. One I don't like to admit, but it is where I met my husband :)
4. Working as a server in a retirement home dining room.

4 Movies I've Watched More Than Once
1. Frozen
2. Definitely, Maybe
3. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
4. Elf

4 Books I Would Recommend
1. All the Harry Potter books. I am late to that game, but I love them even now.
2. The Pact- Jodi Picoult. I have read almost all her books and they are all good.
3. The Guardian- Nicholas Sparks
4. The Beach Trees- Karen White

4 Places I Have Been
1. Riviera Maya, Mexico- Our Honeymoon
2. Hawaii
3. Puerto Rico
4. Washington, DC
4 TV Shows I Watch (On Netflix)
1. Friday Night Lights (Currently)
2. Psych
3. Prison Break
4. Law and Order: SVU

4 Things In My Fridge
1. Capers & Olives. Main ingredients in one of my mom's meals.
2. Skim Milk. By the gallon.
3. Cheese. Especially parmesan.
4. Fresh fruit and salad.

4 Things I'm Looking Forward to This Year (2015)
1. My baby Sister's wedding coming up in August!
2. One of my best friend's wedding in September!
3. My family coming to visit (next week!)
4. My husband finishing his dissertation, hopefully anyway.
Four Things About My Appearance
1. Natural curly hair
2. Height: 4' 11"
3. Freckles
4. Tiny Feet

Four Things In My Purse
1. Wallet with checkbook
2. Hand sanitizer
3. EOS lip balm
4. Advil and daily vitamin

Four Posts Of Mine You Should Check Out
1. Baby D's Birthday Party- My most read post.
2. Fall Birthday Party Tutorial- The how to for the birthday party
3. It's Hard to Say Goodbye- Because this defines who I am today.
4. Things I Have Learned From Living in Louisiana- All three parts are fun for me.

Four Things I Couldn't Live Without
1. My camera. The one on my phone or my big camera.
2. My planner. I am a little obsessed.
3. Netflix. So convenient.
4. My computer. I use it all day every day.

Whew. This post was harder to fill in than I thought it would be, but still fun. Happy Tuesday!

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Houses in Texas

When Richard and I started house shopping in Texas, we started noticing a few features in houses that we did not love, but we had to deal with since they were so common. The only other place I have really house shopped before is Minnesota so these things might not be specific only to Texas, but they are different than what I have seen in Minnesota. It is funny how places can be so different, yet all be within the same country.

Communities. The houses around here are set up so that they are usually in these small neighborhoods where the houses are all close together and packed in. This means small yards and houses everywhere. We were not really huge fans of this, but since all of the neighborhoods seem to be like this there was no escaping it. This also means most neighborhoods had association fees as well.

Small Yards. Since all the houses are so close together, the yards were all super small. Most of the houses were sitting on lots smaller than a fourth of an acre, which is really small. Although, most of the houses had fenced in back yards which is a bonus since we have a dog.

Alleys. Depending on the neighborhood, the houses would have their driveways and garages in their back yard and have an alley behind their house to get to their garage. This way the front of the house did not have a garage as a main attraction. This means that while the curb appeal to your house is great, your driveway cuts into your backyard to make it even smaller. Plus, to me, having a large front yard and a small backyard is a waste of space since you typically use your back yard more with kids and pets.
Garage is located in the back of the house.
Brick. I would say about 90% of the houses down here have a brick exterior. Richard and I actually really loved this, but the house we picked is one of the few that does not have a brick exterior. I love the look of brick so it was fun to see all the brick houses around here.

Grand Entrances. This was another thing we really liked, most of the house around here had these brilliant two story entrances and extra tall ceilings. I love the look of this and most every house here has it so it was amazing to see.
Bonus Rooms. Houses around here also had some very similar designs, specifically in that almost all of them had a bonus room or a game room located at the top the the steps. This was a place where you could set up an additional living room or a pool table or something like that. Houses in Texas do not have basements so this is their alternative.

Master Suite. The master suite in most of these house was located on the first floor. Our realtor told us this was a big thing for resale since the older population usually can't climb stairs. For us, we did not really love this because when you have really young kids having them on a different level is not ideal. But, again we did not really have an option.

Real Estate Taxes. These are so crazy high around here and we had no idea when we started looking. When I asked my dad, who is a realtor in Minnesota, what to guess for taxes he gave me a number under $200 a month. In Texas, our taxes will be about four times that in a month for a house with equal value. So crazy.

Most of these differences are small things, but they were things we had to come to terms with when searching for a house. Had our budget been bigger, we may have been able to eliminate some of these items. But, we were able to find one that we loved as we mentioned before and should hopefully be closing on it soon and then we can give you the grand tour!

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Friday, June 19, 2015

Five on Friday

Well, it's Friday! This week sort of got away from me. I had a post planned for the middle of the week and I completely for got about it. Whoops. Try again next week. So instead, here is my Five on Friday!

One. Richard and I have really been focusing on getting out and going for a walk after he comes home from work. We have gone every day this week except the one day it was pouring rain. It feels good and I always value that time together.

Two. I have been doing a lot of Pinterest browsing looking for ideas for our house. I am super excited about everything we get to do, but am a little overwhelmed because we will be starting from scratch. We literally need everything except a bed. Oh boy. Should be fun though!

Three. Our cucumber plant has gotten so big recently! Our tiny outdoor garden has been doing great and I can't wait till we can eat some of the food we are growing ourselves. So exciting! Next year, we can even have a real life in the ground garden, too!

Four. With Richard's new job, he is able to work from home every Friday and during the summer he even gets off early on Fridays. And, let's face it, him working while at home is nothing new to me so I now get a whole other day with him by my side.

Five. This week has been really crummy with thunderstorms and rain predicted all week. But, this weekend is supposed to be nice and no rain is predicted so we will be spending it outside! Yay for the weekend!

Happy weekend everybody!

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Monday, June 15, 2015

Weekend Update | Twins Game

This weekend was a good one! It was the perfect balance of busy and relaxing, which is just the way I like it!

Friday
Friday started out a little rough. My computer has been giving me major issues since Wednesday. It would freeze up and would take hours for it to un-freeze. So Richard tried a few different things to repair it and nothing worked and it got so bad that all we had left to do was wipe the whole thing and restore it from a back up. Thankfully, before we messed with it, Richard backed it all up to an external hard drive. So far, it seems to be working fine and I haven't lost anything.
Friday afternoon, Richard and I headed to Arlington to go see a Twins Game. Before the game we stopped at a burger place close by that we knew we liked. Then we went to the Rangers Stadium to watch them play the Minnesota Twins. It was a fun game to watch, but it was a little weird to be surrounded by a bunch of people cheering for the opposite team. The Rangers got a home run and everyone got really excited and then the Twins got a home run and everyone booed.

Saturday
On Saturday, Richard and I went with a friend to Taste of Dallas. It was at their state fair grounds and was a bunch of different food vendors that came in and served smaller portions so that you could go around and try a bunch of different food. It was so hot outside that we walked around the park once before we had to take shelter inside with some air conditioning. They had a bunch of different vendors inside so we looked around while we cooled off. We had a good time trying all the different foods, but it was not as exciting as we thought it was going to be. It was something different to do and we are glad we tried it.
When we left the Taste of Dallas, we were both so tired and worn out from the heat that we just hung out at home and watched the first Harry Potter movie. We have watched these movies far too many times recently.

Sunday
Sunday's our day to get things done. We started by going for a walk, went grocery shopping and then hung out outside to read(for me) and work on the dissertation(Richard). It felt good to sit and relax after our busy weekend.

So that was our weekend! We are having so much fun exploring this new city of ours and seeing everything that has to offer!

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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Currently...

Reading: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. I started reading these books for the second time in the last year. Last time I read them it was my first time ever and I have wanted to read them again basically since I finished last fall. There is just so much in the books that you miss a lot the first time reading, so I figure it has been a year, why not?
Wishing: That Richard and I had some grand travel plans to look forward to, but alas we do not. We had talked awhile ago about a Europe trip this summer, but it did not work out. But, I will be traveling to Minnesota a lot this summer so that kinda counts.

Wearing: A whole lot of sweats. I suppose the whole I-never-leave-the-house thing means I never have to get dressed. Can't say I hate it though.

Loving: My most recent photography session! Can you say gorgeous? Also, I am pretty proud of how far my photography has come.
Bookmarking: A million and a half things to do around the Dallas area. Now that we are here to stay, we have to keep ourselves entertained and explore this new city of ours. We have quite the list going already!

Hoping: My husband will finish his dissertation thing soon. I would really like to not be married to a student anymore. Nightly dissertation sessions have gotten old already. What do normal people do with their evenings?

Looking: At ways to decorate our new home. I am pretty excited about being able to do this once we actually move in to a new place!

Studying: For my securities exam, still. But, I feel like I am finally making progress so that is a plus!

Enjoying: Spending a lot of time with this girl. She never leaves my side throughout the day and is just the sweetest.
Looking Forward To: All the wedding goodness I have coming up this summer! So many weddings and wedding events to look forward to this summer! The first being a weekend of bridal showers in July. Woot! Can't wait!

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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

House Hunting

Richard and I have been dreaming about buying a house for sometime now. We knew that once Richard got a job that would be one of our first steps. When we lived in Minnesota and were first married, we had a house and it was so much fun to have that experience. When we moved to Louisiana, we knew we would only be there a few short years so buying a house did not make sense. So we lived in an apartment for the first time in our lives. Now, we have lived in an apartment for just about three years, and having a house really is a luxury. Going from a three bedroom house with two living spaces, a giant laundry room and a fenced in backyard to a tiny two bedroom apartment with laundry in the kitchen and nowhere for the puppy to run was a huge adjustment. One that I don't think we ever fully adjusted to. So having a house again was something we have looked forward to for the last three years.
Our First House :)
Our first house worked perfect for the two of us, plus our puppy and has since been a great rental house. When we bought that house, not long before we got married, we knew there was a chance that we would end up moving else where for Richard to go to graduate school. At the time, I did not want to see how big of a chance that really was. So when we were house hunting, we wanted to find a house that would make a good rental house. Basically, we wanted to find a place that would work for a bunch of different situations, including ours. This made the house buying process a little less intense since we knew we did not need to love the house, we just wanted to find a good investment property. My dad was also new to the real estate business so we had some fun exploring a bunch of different houses.

But this time, the process of buying a house has been a lot more rewarding. We know that we will be sticking around in Texas for quite some time and we want to buy a house that would work perfect for us for the long haul. So we have been dreaming about what we would like to have in a house verses what would be nice to have.

Must Haves:
Be in our Budget. This is probably a duh, but its the truth. We had a predetermined budget that we knew we had to stick to.
Location. Must be within 20 minutes of Richard's new job. This gave us a pretty good radius to search within.
Single Family Home. No more sharing walls with complete strangers.
Four bedrooms, at least three on one level. We figured a room for us, two rooms for future kids, and a guest room.
2+ Baths. Our first house only had one bathroom with three bedrooms which was not always the easiest.
Open Layout/Tall Ceilings. We wanted to make sure that it felt pretty open, especially so that we could see the living room from the kitchen. Plus tall ceilings make everything feel bigger.
Lots of Natural Light. We both love not having to have lights on all the time, especially after living in the caves of our last two apartments.
Nice Outdoor space (Deck/Patio). Richard really enjoys sitting outside and studying, plus we would like a space where we could sit outside for dinner if we choose.
Good School District. We have no idea how long we will live there so we better be careful just in case. Plus, this usually helps with resale.
Large Kitchen. Our first house and our last two apartments have had pretty tiny kitchens. You run out of counter space pretty quick, and since we cook at home most of the time this was a must.

Nice to Haves:
Fenced in backyard. So Paisley would have space to run. Not a deal breaker though because we could find alternatives.
Wood Floors. We could always add them if we wanted to, but would nice not to have to fund it.
Living Space that could be converted to an office. Having a place outside of a bedroom that could be used as an office would be a major plus.
Walk in Closets. Nice big closets for the first time in our life would be awesome.
2+ Car Garage. Again would be nice, but we would be ok with out it. I mean its Texas, so we don't have to deal with snow and freezing cold temperatures so it was not a huge deal.
Master Suite. Would be nice, but we are not that picky.
Exposed Staircase. If we want the really tall ceilings, a lot of times this comes with an exposed staircase. I just really like the look and it is really common in Texas.
Walkable Neighborhood. We really like to go on walks, and going right from our front door was a major plus in our first house. Would be nice to have that again.
Kitchen Pantry. Some extra space that was designed for food would great. Though, not the end of the world if we have to use a cabinet.

We started house shopping and put in an offer on a house that meets all of our must haves, all of our nice to haves, plus some things we did not think to inlcude. But more on the later! Such a fun and exciting time and we are so ready to move in!

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Thursday, June 4, 2015

June Goals

So I used to write out my goals once a month, but I stopped at the end of last year. I actually really miss doing these posts. They help keep me productive and keep me accountable. I actually just went back and looked at my 2015 Goals and I forgot about most of them already. So it is nice to have a place to go back and look to see that you accomplished everything. Also, remember my 101 in 1001 Days? Yeah, I am supposed to be done with that by the end of September. I probably will not complete everything, but I am still proud of what I have accomplished and hope to cross off a few more things. Which means, I have some goals to achieve this month.

Blog More. I don't want to put any specific number on this, but the last few months I have had less than 6 blog posts a month which is just sad. My goal used to be 3 posts a week, but I need to start small and just try to beat my previous months.

Get Moving. Richard and I have decided recently that instead of having dinner right away when he gets home, we want to do something active together. This helps us be healthier and also it is the kind of time I like to spend with my husband, so we ensure we make time for that. Last night we played racquetball and in the future we would like to go on walks around the neighborhood.

Make Time For Dates. Recently, Richard and I have really struggled to make time together. Between all of the crazy travel we have had, work, and Richard's dissertation, there has not been a whole lot of "us" time. My love language is 110% quality time so I have really been missing spending time with Richard. This month, we are working toward setting aside more time for just us.

Maid of Honor Duties. With two wedding coming up at the end of summer/early fall, I have some major duties that I need to attend to. Summer is about to get crazy and June I am pretty free, so I want to be as helpful as possible this month and start really planning out some major things.

Study. I have really been putting this off recently, but I need to get at it. I finished all of my coursework so I just need to pass the test for my securities license. I need to keep studying before I forget everything I have learned and have the last month of studying wasted.

Stay Organized. This one is sort of vague, but I need to stay on top of everything I want to accomplish and make sure I am staying organized and productive with everything. With house shopping, travel coming up and everything else on my to-do list, I need to keep up with my day to day stuff too. Should be an interesting month.

Enjoy Summer. It is the start of summer after all, so this is a must! So much to see so little time!

Alright, that is a lot to accomplish in one tiny month, but I have high hopes! Here's to a fun and productive month!



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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Crazy Train, All Aboard

Life has been crazy lately. There is no other way to describe it. I have been super absent these last few months-basically since we picked up and moved out of Louisiana. We have officially been living in Texas for two months and these last two month have been the fastest and longest months of my entire life. They were the fastest because I literally blinked and all of a sudden it is June. However, when I look back to when I left Louisiana, I feel like so much time has passed and so much has changed in just a few short months that I am amazed it has not been longer.

Prior to this past weekend, Richard and I have had some crazy travel schedules. In a six week span, we had one normal weekend where both of us were home and not traveling. First Richard was in Fort Worth for a week for work, followed by a weekend in DC. Then, we were in Philadelphia the following weekend for SIOP. Then Richard traveled to Austin for a guys weekend. Then we had our one normal weekend, which was spent playing the catch up game. Then my sister came to visit for a week and Richard travelled to Nebraska for a job interview. Then we both went to Minnesota for my dad's wedding. Whew. I am tired just by writing that all out.

So while we have been in Texas for two months already, we have not had a lot of spare time. I have spent my time studying to get my securities license which consumed all of my time for an entire month. And I technically should still be studying since I have not actually taken that test yet.

We have had some good news, though, in the last month. Richard has finally accepted a job here in the Dallas area and we are putting down roots and staying put. We have been looking forward to this moment for some time now. The last year has been hard not knowing what was going to happen, let alone where we were going to be living. It is really hard to make plans for the future when you have no idea where the future will take you. But now that we know, we are making so many plans and that makes my heart so happy. Almost immediately after Richard accepted the job, we spoke with a realtor to get moving forward in the house buying process. We have been chomping at the bit to buy a house for a while because let's face it-apartment living sucks. But now we are finally able to start looking and it has been a fun process so far! Hooray for knowing where we will be living a year down the line!

So much has changed in the last few months, some things for the better and some things not so much. I have a lot of things going on in my personal life that I can't share yet-if ever. But life has been a struggle recently so the motivation to blog just has not been there.

I am really hoping to find my routine again. I know I have said this in the past, but I really need to figure out what works best for me in my new situation so that I can continue to feel productive and motivated. I do so much better when I can plan out my time so we shall see.

This post is a little heavier than I intended it to be. But, it is now June (how did that happen?) so we have a fresh start and a fresh budget so all is good. Here is to making June the best month we have had in Texas yet! Oh and it finally stopped raining here! We have had so much rain in the last month there has been flooding everywhere. This past weekend we would get those emergency alerts on our phones 2-3 times a night. So crazy. But now the sun is shining so everything is good!


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