Summer is officially over.

Well, tomorrow is the first day of fall. I can’t believe summer is officially over, but the new season means cooler temps, cute jackets and scarves galore!

Here’s a quick recap of my TOP 7 faves from Summer 2016:

1. The perfect beach chair, compliments of my best friend. I’m obsessed. It’s so comfyeasy to haul to the beach!

2. Finding a battery powered lawn mower

3. The Essie 2016 Summer Nail Color

4.  USA brought home GOLD, and lots of it!

5. Justin Timberlake…need I say more? I can’t stop the feeling! #JTforLife

6. Can you say adorable? This string of white ceramic pots – which I filled with succulents- is perfect in between two ginormous windows in my office. Hopefully, the will survive my notorious black thumb.

7. Don’t read this sitting down. But seriously, I am trying to be healthier. So, I spent a little bit of pocket change on a stand up desk.

 

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Another Update | #30at30

Tick, tock. Time to update that #30at30 list. I turn 31 in July, so the clock is winding down on my goals. I forgot about a few of these too, so it’s always nice for a quick refresher.

30.Freshen up on Spanish. Since I made the rules on this challenge, I checking this one off the list! I practiced my vocal and verb conjugations with a few Spanish apps. I also watched two Netflix show completely in Spanish (with subtitles), so I feel that was great challenge: Velvet & the Grand Hotel. I definitely recommend them!

29. Recreate my family tree. So far, this is incredibly time consuming. And, I haven’t really started. 

28. Go to 10 new restaurants.

27. Learn to swim, better. Saving this for when the water is a bit warmer.

26. Learn CPR.

25. Sell something. I’m working on my artwork again, so maybe I could do some commission work.

24. Write more. I’m reading more, for sure. Let’s put in the still working on this list.

23.Set & achieve networking goals. 

22. Become a connoisseur of something  – coffee & tea. This has become a really fun challenge. Every two to three weeks, I’ve made a conscious effort to pick out a coffee or tea that I have never tried, from different countries and different variations! Right now, I’m enjoying a cup of Allegro’s Kenya Grand Cru – which has hints of red wine, blackberry, currant and citrus.  Whole Foods just opened here locally, and I found their short Guide to to Coffee very helpful. 

21. Treat myself to something expensive and pay for it in cash. This probably is not what you might consider a treat; but, since buying my new home, I have focused my attention on my backyard. It’s is completely overgrown, and the previous owner basically had heaps of pine straw everywhere where grass should be. First item on the list was to chop down the dead pine trees.  I wrote a check and handed it to them that day!

20.Celebrate something, somewhere else. I celebrated helping raise $12,000 for an event in Inlet Beach. I had to drive 20 minutes so it’s counting for now!

19. Start a collection.  I’m deleting/changing this one… I don’t want more junk. So, #19 has been edited to Learning to Live with Less. During Lent this year, I removed one piece of clothing per day. It was harder than I thought, but I like this challenge. Consider this one a continual process.

18. Plant a tree. My dad found a cute tea olive, so I can’t wait to plant this the next time they are here! 1/2 way completed.

17. Attend 5 4 art exhibits.

  • Vi LaLa Galleries

16. Complete a 30 day challenge.

15. Do something that scares me.

14.Transition my 20 year old closet to my 30 year old closet. 

13. Plan a road trip.

12. Plan for a retirement. YIKES, I need to get on this, stat.

11. Get a bonus at work. WHOOP WHOOP! I just found out!

10. Create a scrapbook. I think this was my dumbest goal. Scrapbooking is hard. Just because you are artsy/craftsy, doesn’t mean making a scrapbook is going to be a piece of cake. I attempted this a few different times, and have opted to make myself take more pictures, upload them and print at the end of the year. This one is nixed. 

9. Plan a big trip. Currently, planning a fall trip to either Denver or Buffalo, NY!

8. Get in shape. I’m not where I want to be, but I’m better than where I was when this challenge started. I have been very regular with my workouts. It’s time to start upping the intensity so I can see results!

7.Create a morning routine.  I’ve been pretty consistent with this one. I make up my bed, drink coffee, check personal emails, read something for myself – like a encouraging blog, check my money, and sometimes do a quick workout before hopping in the shower and/or getting ready for the day. It helps to get up earlier. 

6. Go on a SUP adventure.  DONE! My best friend Jeri and I went out on the Destin Harbor, and it was so much fun. We were not great, but we didn’t fall in either! 

5. Take four two classes: one weird, one professional, one cooking and one social (like etiquette).

  • Weird – Aerial Pilates
  • Professional : SEO Marketing class & Google Analytics Class

4. Visit somewhere I’ve never been before.

3. Go to church, regularly.

2. Pay off all CC Debt. I’M SO CLOSE!!

1. Buy a place to live and set up a home.  DONE!!!!

I’m going to print this list off, and put it on my fridge. These goals were important to me when I started this post, and maybe I just need a constant reminder, so that I can complete this! Wish me luck 🙂

Call me Picasso.

Need an easy stress fix? Pick up a paint brush. Or better yet, don’t! Use your fingers or a squirt bottle or a knife, and just push color onto a canvas. There are no rules, at least if you are doing an abstract painting.

I haven’t sat down to paint in a long time. I forgot how exhilarating it is, to create something on a blank canvas with a few colors. Sometimes, they aren’t very good. Sometimes they kinda are. Sometimes there is something missing, and I just can’t put my finger on it. Instead of stressing over finishing it, I walk away and come back to it.

And who cares if it’s good? I like it. If it makes you happy, do it.

I found an online course with a monthly subscription at ArtTutor.com, where I recently completed An Introduction to Abstract Art with David Hallangen, which had fun challenges like painting one brush stroke throughout the entire painting, using new tools, and even time constraints. It was super fun, and I definitely recommend it. Also, Brit.Co has a few art classes that I want to try out as well.

I’m not convinced that these paintings are finished, but they make me happy – for now. The orange, pink and yellow series it a little more sentimental for me, as I actually had a little help form my niece and nephew. I think they enjoyed it just as much as I did!

For the others, if I decided I don’t like them, I can always paint on top of them.

I asked Santa for a house…

For my boldest Christmas wish yet, I asked Santa Claus for house this year. And, I’m sure glad I was good, as I look at my newly acquired keys dangling from my key chain. While I wish the man in red had helped out with a few payments, I’m happy to be decking the halls at a place I can call my own. Merry Christmas to me, indeed.

And I’ve gained a wealth of knowledge about real estate through this process. I know about mortgage loans, and home owner associations, and what big commitment this was, and what can be negotiated, and even what this “closing costs” term is.

Some of you might ask why? I was very happy with my rental unit, but I had my reasons:

  • Traffic: My apartment was in the heart of Destin and right by the beach; but, during the summer, that location was a little problematic. If I left at 5pm, I never got home at a decent hour. From 11-1 and then from about 4-7pm, traffic is terrible.  And, if it was raining, I hit two malls. Forget about it. Sometimes, I just turned around, and went back to work.
  • Money: My rent went up $100 since my first lease, and I expected that to continue. During my research of mortgage rates and monthly payments, I realized my monthly payments on a mortgage could be significantly cheaper.
  • Neighborhood: I wanted a neighborhood, and somewhere I felt safe. Not to knock the apartment lifestyle, but there was so much turnover. I never knew who my neighbors were or who was parking beside me.
  • Cramped: My apartment was a 1 bedroom/ 1 bath apartment, which was great when I first moved down! However, when guests came to stay, it was tight.
  • Ownership: My payments were going towards something I was never going to own.  I couldn’t paint the wall, much less nail anything in them either. If didn’t like something, too bad.  I was stuck with it!

So, I started my search. And by that, I mean I downloaded the app for Realtor.com and started looking at pictures of mansions. There are all kinds of filters on this app, so you can pick location by radius, minimum and maximum price, how many bed/bathrooms you need, etc.  I had no idea what to put in my price range. I even stupidly inquired on some co-op units, since they were falling in my estimated price range. And after a while, I realized I had bitten off more than I could chew.  I needed a realtor – someone that knew the market, and would help me make a good decision financially for my future. Done! My realtor also connected me with my loan officer, and we figured out what I could qualify for my loan and what my payments would be.

Big girl moment – I didn’t fall in the bracket I originally wanted. But, when I started looking at what my payments would be for these dream houses, and how much I would have to put down on the house- helllllooooo dollar signs. It was time to start looking at the correct price range that I qualified for, and right area of town. Unfortunately, there were not a lot of options. I live in an upscale tourist town, where most buyers are looking for investment properties, long term rentals, or just have for a 2nd home. So, ok, I wouldn’t have a house right on the beach, but I had a great amount to work with. I just had to find the right house.

Two Homes: Decision Time

I looked at a few houses, and was so disappointed in a few of them. Some looked like great steals online, only to find water damage…or rooms that literally smelled like smoke …or they had hired very skilled photographers.  That part was awful. I was pretty discouraged.  (In retrospect, I was being dramatic. I didn’t search that long before finding something I liked. I literally looked at houses and found two that I liked in about two week’s time- see below. I’ve never said I was patient, people.) 

Finally, I found two that I liked. One was a flip in Santa Rosa Beach, and one was a town home just down the road. Both had pros and cons, and I remember walking through the rooms the first time and breaking out in a sweat. My palms were wet. I had no idea what I was doing or what my realtor was saying, and I knew this was a huge decision. What should I look for? Was I just supposed to fall in love with the house as soon as I stepped inside? Would I prefer the fixer upper over the newly renovated home? What the heck are closing costs? Was that a payment in addition to this percentage down thing? Who are my neighbors? Why would they pick that wall color?

I brought in enforcements – my parents- and went on a 2nd walk through for each house. We came to the conclusion were just too many things wrong with the flip. It was almost like they ran out of money. And most importantly,  the asking price was too high.

The town home had three bedrooms, two baths, a back yard, a huge den/ living area, laundry room, working kitchen, and even a cute little Florida room. The spot is super close to the beach, and part of a great HOA.  As my realtor likes to say, SOLDafter a little negotiating.

Paperwork & Minor Hiccups

I qualified for a few things that helped me with my loan, and the town home received a great appraisal. I had to find all kinds of odd documents, work history, and previous addresses.  Stressful. But, I found everything I needed, scanned them all in, and then just waited. I would get a call about an inspection, and then it was pretty quiet. And, then there were a few things we went back and forth on. After few weeks, everything was approved, and set the date to close at the end of November.

The house had a renter in it, and I was planning to honor the lease and move in January. However, at the last minute, she changed her mind and wanted to leave once I took ownership. Since I didn’t want to pay mortgage and rent in the same month, I bumped up my move out date from my apartment and rescheduled my movers.  Of course, the new move in date was scheduled for the morning after a HUGE event I was co-chairing. Life is funny like that. You do want you have to do to make it work!

I pulled up to the parking lot for my closing with my car packed to the brim with clothes and breakables. The closing was super easy, however, SUPER long. My wrist literally cramped after signing so much paperwork. After about an hour that felt like an eternity, I was a new homeowner! I remember a brief moment of panic after I signed and handed over the last paper. But, I looked up to smiling faces, and nothing but confidence and excitement followed. I did it! And, I even received a bottle of celebratory champagne.

Now, I’m all moved in, with the exception of three cardboard boxes that have not been unpacked. I even had enough room to put up my Christmas tree. And now with the season over, all my Holiday decor is neatly packaged, in my attic!

And next year, I’ll be sure to leave cookies and a thank you note for Kris Kringle!

 

Ariel Fitness

“The knack of flying is learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.” – Douglas Adams

Have you guys ever heard of Ariel Fitness? Basically, it is the art of hanging in the air with silks. Think Cirque du Soleil, but in workout clothes.

There’s one studio that I had been passing by on my way to work everyday, so I have wanted to check out a class for a while. Much to my relief, one of my friends texted me about a private session. It’s always easier to try something new when you can go with friends – and definitely in a private class – so I emphatically said yes and suggested we go ASAP.

Here’s the description of the class we attended:

Students will learn how to climb and wrap themselves using two long pieces of fabric hung from a single point. These classes are perfect for beginners with no prior experience. Classes include warm up, conditioning, and stretching. Students will learn at their own pace and interest level how to climb and do poses in the air like Cirque du Soleil. Be prepared to learn tricks and drops in this class as time you advance. 

Beautiful silks fell from the ceiling, and our teacher gracefully pulled herself up the silks and turned upside down, making her technique and tricks look easy. After warming up and learning how to wrap our “standing” foot, our first exercise consisted of climbing the silks. Hello triceps! Pain shot through my arms, but once I got the hang of it – and decided that I probably wouldn’t be able to move my arms the next day – I pressed on to new skills.

For many of the tricks, you need to have a LOT of upper body strength.  As you can tell with the pictures below, that’s not my strong suit.  I quickly came to the realization that I was not going going to look like my teacher while trying these skills, and may not even my friends.

I hit the ground a few times.

In retrospect, I wish I would have done a little more research on what I was getting into before going. I think had I known was to expect, I might have been a little better. And, I definitely would have stretched a little more before trying. But, it was super fun and a great experience! Who doesn’t want to fly?!

Time to work on my pushups, and then I’ll try again soon!