Happy November!

I forgot yet again to create a Wanderlust Wednesday post last week, and missed Monday as well…but here we are on November 1st, so that’s as good a time as any to catch y’all back up on life, right?

Hopefully everyone had a spectacular Halloween…we spent it binge watching Lie to Me and handing out laaaarge handfuls of candy to the 20 or so kids that stopped by. Woo! Anyway, on with my 5 happy things.

  1. It’s November, which means Thanksgiving! This year I’ve decided to spend the entire month writing down things I’m thankful for; and blogger Emily Ley made it super easy with this cute printable! I can’t imagine it’ll be too difficult, though I might be thinking differently by the end of the month. I’ll post updates occasionally 🙂 You should try it too!
  2. Despite the majority of people not knowing who we were dressed up as, I think that Joe and I kicked some major costume butt this year. If you haven’t seen The Royal Tenenbaums, I highly recommend it! It’s been one of my favorites since I watched it in film class my Senior year of high school. Barb also dressed up  multiple times over the weekend, both as a taco and a peacock.
  3. It is 77 degrees right now, and while I feel sad for the polar bears and other animals who have melting homes, I’m going to embrace the warm weather as long as possible! (Especially since everything I’ve read says we’re in for a nasty winter. I really dislike being cold.)
  4. The vodka company I freelance for officially is in stores (in Michigan) as of Oct 31! It’s been a long time coming, and I have no idea which stores it can actually be found in, but I’m excited nonetheless. I had fun with Boomerang for the two Halloween social media posts, heh.
  5. Since I started with a link…kind of, I’m going to finish with one more tidbit of Claire-goodness. We finally booked somewhere to stay during our 14 hour layover in Frankfurt! We found an Airbnb 1 train stop away from the airport. An apartment in a neighborhood is much more exciting (and cheaper!) than the airport hotel. The owners also speak like 8 languages, which is crazy impressive.

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Happy Monday! 8/15

Well shoot, it’s been a while since I posted something of substance, eh? Moving + Disney + unpacking + freelance + regular work takes a lot out of a person! No complaints though – I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I didn’t keep busy.

  1. Friday over lunch I decided we had to tear up the carpet on our stairs. I’m pretty sure the previous owners’ dog slept there every night, so the stairwell just reeked. The stairs will definitely need to be refinished at some point but I’m just happy to not have stinky stairs anymore 😀
  2. After buying all of the painting supplies to redo our porch floor, we…decided to tile it instead. So far we’ve cleaned the porch and put down a moisture barrier, and today after work we’ll be smoothing out the concrete with some mortar (it’s in really bad shape right now.) There’s a good chance we’re biting off a bit more than we can chew, but it’ll get done!
  3. I did a few blind taste tests with Vökin, Grey Goose, and Ketel One with friends and Joe over the weekend, and they all chose Vökin as the best one – so that’s promising! Hooray for *officially* having good product!
  4. One of my friends is visiting this weekend! We have grand plans of building porch furniture and sitting on the porch for hours upon hours, so hopefully Joe and I are able to get the floor finished before he leaves for a conference Wednesday night.
  5. Even though it was already a week ago, I’m putting our Disney trip into my happy things, because..duh. Disney. We took a whopping 274 Photopass pictures; when you’re paying a lot of money for Memory Maker (aka can download all of the photos) – you gotta take full advantage of every. single. photographer. on main street. Heh. Really though, we had such a great time, and are already looking forward to our next trip. Which will absolutely, certainly, without question be longer than 2.5 days:) (Well, 3, taking into account the Delta issues we ran into on Monday.) Look out for a full (mini) trip report in a week or so..once life settles down again!

Whew! Lots to catch up on. In addition to a Disney trip report, I’ll also be posting a couple of reviews sometime soon..yay for getting back into the swing of things!

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Wanderlust Wednesday – 6/22

Ah, yes. Putting my graphic design skills to good use.
Ah, yes. Putting my graphic design skills to good use.

It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition; and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call The Twilight Zone.

Or at least something very similar.

Scene: A dark and stormy night. Doors and windows open in a cute green rental home (which is surprisingly cluttered considering the house was just speed-cleaned in preparation for house showings.) Doors and windows open for air flow, because running the AC gets expensive.

Action: As the curtain rises, Chip and Joanna Gaines can be heard. Apparently it’s demo day. And yes, Chip, your hair looks great. Claire and Joe are sitting on the couch enjoying cocktails prepared for tomorrow’s Vökin Vodka post, and discussing what needs to be done to the Berkley house. Barb is hiding under the guest room bed, meowing at the thunder…and everything else. 

a ding is heard coming from claire’s computer, but demo day is more important so it is ignored.

Joe: Uh. Check your email.

Claire: checks email, and is immediately sent into a state of (calm) panic after reading that the sellers gave an ultimatum. Response by tomorrow at 9am, or the house is going back on the market.

Joe: So, are we buying a house?

joe and claire converse back and forth, text claire’s family for input, and pour some very large glasses of wine. 

Okay and to be quite honest I’m not quite sure how the rest of it all went, but the following was the resulting email back to our realtor, word for word. Still on an image from my travels though, because it is Wanderlust Wednesday after all 😉

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So…yep! Cheers to that! (pending appraisal and mortgage things, but that’s kid’s stuff in comparison.)

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5 House-Buying Thoughts…

Despite all of the stars aligning to get us this house, we’ve been hitting speed bump after speed bump…all of which has been more or less out of our control. And while I have a feeling some of what we’re experiencing is unique to our situation, holy moley Joe and I are both at the “literally can’t even” stage of all of this. I like to think that I (generally) have a positive outlook on life…heck – I joke that my mantra is Hakuna Matata – but lemme tell ya – there is nothing Hakuna Matata about buying a house.

Anyway. If you know me at all, you know I love my phone’s Disney GIF keyboard app. It just makes everything better, kind of like ice cream. Or wine. So of course as I was contemplating a house-related blog post (a grumpy one, at that) – I knew including Disney GIFs would keep me from getting too cynical about the whole ordeal. Here goes nothin!

1. Is it really that hard for our realtor to hit ‘reply all’ ?

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I mean, don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind texting Joe (or vice versa) any time we hear back from the guy but come onnnn. We put each other in the CC box for a reason.

2. Well, I just got a nice new car. Maybe we can live in that for a while.

I guess maybe a cat, senile hedgehog and two humans might be a tight squeeze, but it is an option. (Kidding.) But really, there aren't even any other houses on the market right now that we like. We're absolutely between a rock and a hard place.
I guess maybe a cat, senile hedgehog and two humans might be a tight squeeze, but it is an option. (Kidding.) But really, there aren’t even any other houses on the market right now that we like.

3. Trying to focus on work things when shit is hitting the fan is hard.

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Definitely doable. But hard. Gotta put my Anne Hathaway *focus face* on.

4. Can the owners of our current home just make a decision?

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They’ve gone back and forth a handful of times now and it is not helping stress levels. “Sign this lease increase and extension by June 1st or we will assume you are finding somewhere else to live” okay looks like we’re staying put for another year “loljk the owners are thinking of selling the house” well shoot. oh but the berkley house is available again? cool beans! “Oh btw, you need to have the house clean and ready for showings in 5 days” well, we’re gone for 2.5 of those days, time for some speed cleaning “loljk they’re not going to sell it” at least now we have a clean house…?

5. Do the sellers even care about our well-being?

You're probably thinking "duh, Claire" - but really. We already offered to pay for most of the wiring/electrical issues on our own (still knob and tube) - the LEAST y'all can do is save me from having to inhale mold spores while I sleep.
You’re probably thinking no, Claire they just want to make money, duh – but really. The kitchen needs a remodel and we already offered to pay for most of the wiring/electrical issues on our own (still knob and tube set up) – the LEAST y’all can do is save me from having to inhale mold spores while I sleep.

Buying the Berkley house isn’t completely off the table. We still have to be out as close to the end of July as we can, which makes things difficult, but unless the sellers do a complete 180, we’ll probably have to start all over. Sigh. (Heck, we would probably be okay with just meeting somewhere in the middle!) I think it’s safe to say that we will both be consuming nice, cold, tall glass of…something with alcohol during Finding Dory tonight. Sheesh. Have I mentioned how great the Alamo Drafthouse is before? That’s another story for another day.

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Surprise! Cute Baby Dory 🙂 Gotta end my grumpy post with something adorable.

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The One That Got Away…

I’ve always thought people were joking when they say ‘it’s the little things that get to you’ when talking about their homes (rental or otherwise) – but Joe and I have been experiencing that first hand in our cute, but far too compact house here in Kzoo. We can’t both cook in the kitchen together, the bedrooms are tiny, the upstairs is pretty much unusable if it’s below 50 degrees outside…I could go on. Anyway, as much as I’d reeeeally not like to move all of our stuff again, Joe and I have been looking at places to move to once our lease is up…which unfortunately has been pretty unsuccessful; the vast majority of leases around here are a “private space” in a large house filled with college students. No thank you.

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As strong as my feelings are about not moving all of our stuff again, my feelings about continuing to rent were even stronger for a variety of reasons- even if that does mean we’re praaaactically throwing money away.

Enter: our dream home.

For kicks and giggles I decided to look at houses for sale in the area, basically since all of the rental options were just so disappointing…and holy moley I found the absolute perfect house. 2 stories, amazing backyard, all new appliances, a farmhouse sink, island and ample storage space/cabinets in the kitchen, more than one bathroom….perfection, really.

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*drool*

Anyway, I sent the link to Joe, which began a very quick but well thought out discussion of “would this be worth it…” resulting in a resounding yes. What? We’re both actually okay with starting the process of buying a house? (Of course, it’s not all sunshine and butterflies – the house is in a terrible school district.) So, I promptly emailed a realtor to get the low down on the house…only to learn that it sold yesterday.

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It was only up for sale for 3 days before selling. It had 10 showings on Wednesday, which resulted in multiple offers and a successful sale. We’re actually both super sad about it – we’re very picky about what we want in a future house, and this one had literally everything – for an incredibly fair price. (But we definitely would have been doing some repainting. So much green!)

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Amazing, right? I’m really not surprised it sold so quickly. It was a great dream for all of…5 hours, and got the conversation started – maybe buying a house in Kzoo isn’t such a bad idea after all 🙂

Plus hey, now we have a good ‘base’/checklist for our future house hunting endeavors. We know what we want, and can compare back to the features of this house to make sure we’re not shorting ourselves on anything important.

(But really, that kitchen space though. Sigh…)

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pumpkins, etc.

As hectic as it can be, Joe and I really enjoy hosting gatherings – and going all out with them – because why not?

Such was the case with our pumpkin carving get-together last night. I made homemade guac, apple brickle dip, and a mummy version of pigs in a blanket, and we had a pumpkin keg with Oktoberfest beer inside 🙂 Oh, and halloween candy, of course.

Easy recipe #1: 4 avocados, juice from 1 small lime, salt, and garlic (to taste.) Mash!
Easy recipe #2: 8oz (softened) cream cheese, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup white sugar. Mix with beaters! Fold in 1 bag of Heath brickle bits.
Easy recipe #3: Eckrich breakfast sausages, croissant dough. Cut croissant dough into small strips, wrap around weenies. Cook according to dough directions.
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My dad gave me a watermelon keg spout (?) for my birthday – it also is perfect for pumpkins!
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I’d be lost without my Cricut.

I also (finally) replaced the happy birthday banner from a few weeks ago with one that says happy halloween!

I’m very glad we planned ahead in regard to keeping everything as mess-free as possible. Lots of newspaper and two cheap plastic tablecloths (one on a folding table, one on the ground) made the clean-up of 8 pumpkins worth of guts much easier, and super quick!

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Not everyone was 100% done with their pumpkins when we took the picture – but I’d definitely say the night was a success! This week is going to be busy – we accidentally sent my bunny tail to my parents house, so we need to find one of those, trivia on Thursday, movie night on Friday, and Halloween fun on Saturday…hooray for getting out and doing things with people 🙂

Now, back to freelance work! I feel like too many of my blog posts end with a similar statement. I’m easily distracted.

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DIY – Fall Mickey Wreath!

Since the moment I realized there was a hole in our front door just asking for a wreath to be hung, I’ve been wanting to make a fall wreath…and after a somewhat overwhelming trip to Michael’s and a very messy ordeal in our living room, we now have the absolute best fall wreath hanging on our door!

After looking around online for some inspiration, I saw a picture of a Mickey shaped wreath and immediately knew that was what needed to happen – but there weren’t any directions – sooo I had to wing it, and I gotta say, I think it turned out even better than the picture I initially saw 🙂

I posted a picture of the finished product on Facebook last night and a handful of people asked how to make the wreath, so here it goes!


Craft stores (should) sell the base of each of the 3 wreaths (1 large, 2 smaller), which by the way will not only stick to/catch on each other and pretty much everything else, but create a giant mess of your work space. I struggled to find 3 wreaths that worked well with each other and had the right proportions (so many of the larger wreaths were oval shaped due to shipping, probably) – but after going through pretty much every single option, we found the perfect set!

I also bought 2 “vines” of fall leaves with small pumpkins hanging off of them (could have definitely gotten away with one vine, but I wanted multiple colors of leaves!) a stem of black eyed susans, a stem with fall berries on it, a pack of smaller pumpkins, a small pack of wooden discs that matched well with the size of the pumpkin (mickey ears!), 2 shades of orange paint (one would have been fine, but try to match it to the pumpkin color), and raffia to secure the ears to the head!

Now for the directions!

  1. Paint the wooden discs orange, one side and the edges is really all that’s necessary. Two per pumpkin, if that clarification needs to be made, since they will turn into pumpkin Mickey ears 🙂
  2. While the painted ears are drying, secure the wreath ears to the head using raffia. The more wraps the better – you don’t want Mickey’s ears to droop! Make sure to secure the ears in multiple places, especially closer to the top of the head. Try to get raffia that matches the color of your wreath, so it blends in relatively well.
  3. Once the paint on the ears has dried, use an exacto knife cut into your pumpkins – a cut just deep/long enough to shove your painted orange ears in – make sure your cuts result in the ears being in generally the right place – they should stay in without a problem (all of the pumpkins I ended up with are foam, which definitely helped things.) I made the ears a little more permanent by then hot gluing the seam between the backs of the ears and the pumpkin.
  4. At this point you’ll have all of your parts generally ready. Cut off leaves from your vine(s) as you need them, and just start placing, shoving, and gluing everything onto your base wreath as you see fit! You’ve got all sorts of creative freedom here to make your wreath how you’d like – so go crazy 🙂
  5. Once you’re happy with your wreath (remember, sometimes less is more. I think I went a teensy bit overboard with my leaves, but oh well) use your raffia to make a hook for your wreath and hang your lovely new creation for the world to see! 
  6. I ended up with a lot of extra materials, so I used them to decorate our newly assembled shelf for Fall – but keep that in mind as you make your way through the black hole that is Michael’s/JoAnn’s/Hobby Lobby. You probably don’t need as many materials as you think. Also, Michael’s and Joann’s coupons are interchangeable – so make use of them! Lots of Fall stuff is on sale right now too (the vines were 60% off, for example) so that helps with keeping the cost down.pumpkins

We may not be able to be in Disney World for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, but at least now Joe and I have a little bit of Disney Halloween to enjoy up in Michigan until we get down there for Christmas, woohoo!

If you make your own wreath, let me know – I’d love to see them 🙂

furniture, bugs, and target gift cards

Our first major piece of furniture was delivered today, a credenza ordered from Zulily. As quite possibly the most impatient person in the world, I wanted the 150 pounds of credenza inside and built as soon as possible, so I opened the box on our side porch and started carrying it in, piece by piece. In 90 degree weather. Oof. Once it was all inside (and the AC was turned back on) I started working my way through the directions, only to realize that two of the major pieces had huge smushed parts that would be visible. So…building the credenza has been put on hold. Luckily the company is sending new parts that should arrive within 3-5 days…our house is still such a disaster though, the parts can’t come soon enough!

On another note, we’ve come to realize that our house has a mild ant problem, but we decided to become exterminators for the day, setting out little ant traps and spraying the baseboards, spraying the foundation outside, and sticking some weird ant bait things in the grass. Maybe we went a little overboard, but almost all of it was on clearance at Target – go big or go home, right? I’d really rather not re-live my bug instigated anxiety attack from our honeymoon at Morgan’s Rock (which, Morgan’s Rock was seriously amazing, especially once I got over the bug thing. Again, a blog post for another time.)

Speaking of Target – we used the last of our wedding gift cards tonight! Partially on food, partially, and more excitingly, on summer clearance items. We were super excited to find a cute little outdoor table/chair set for under $35…we may not have been able to build our credenza today, but gosh darn it we were determined to add some type of furniture to the house! Plus having a glass of wine on our deck before bed…it doesn’t get much better than that 🙂

xx
Claire