Tagged with " St. Louis"
6 Oct
2015
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Three Things: September

It’s finally fall! I have some upcoming work projects keeping me busy, some DIY I have to start on, and a week off of work finally scheduled. September was almost as busy as this month.

Food

Finally made it to @stlsouthern for some yummy and spicy chicken

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There’s a new restaurant in St. Louis that keeps getting all the buzz. Southern has hot chicken and soul food sides. There’s almost always a line out the door but I got out of work early just before Labor Day weekend and managed to get some of that spicy food. Sadly the mac & cheese was already gone but the mashed potatoes won me over as did the greens. They serve banana pudding here but sadly I didn’t have space. I’ll just have to stop by again.

Sarah's Cake Stop

September had the second from last Food Truck Friday. I had some more Seoul Taco (my husband and I are addicted!) and went to the storefront version again on the weekend. We rounded out the meal with some seasonal cupcakes.

The Restaurant

The husband and I celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary this month. We went to The Restaurant at The Cheshire. I went a little crazy and got a prime rib and yorkshire pudding. Totally worth it. The pork belly appetizer is to die for. Seriously, pork belly is my new obsession.

Entertainment

7pm sets at Loufest #coin #brandonflowers #loufest

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I went to my first music festival. Loufest 2015 was a pretty fun time and with beautiful weather I couldn’t have planned a better way to spend time other than listening to music in Forest Park. Next year though I would love to see more women artists but I enjoyed what I did hear and have to say that Pokey LaFarge was one of my favorite sets of the weekend.

So far this game is not going my way

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I made it to a Cardinals day game with the husband. We even got to see a win on our afternoon off work.

Anyone read Tana French? I started the Dublin Murder Squad books in September and fell in love with the series. In the Woods and The Likeness were both original and yet familiar to me and the writing style was beautiful. There’s mystery, relationships, and intrigue.

House

In case anyone gets lost in my house, I have a sign that directs them to the nearest exit.

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My husband nearly gave me a heart attack hanging this sign but we finally have our first piece up on the brick gallery wall. I’m going with a rustic travel vibe here so my maps will go on this wall too.

My IKEA trip got me planning the guest bedroom/studio. Sometimes I have trouble seeing the purpose of a space. Do I design for myself or for guests? Do I go with something that matches the rest of the house or a space that has its own personality? How often will people really sleep over at my house? I am debating bed v. daybed v. no bed. I’m debating nearly built in shelves from a store v. finding the right vintage pieces v. making my own look no matter the source. I’m debating pink, gold, green, blue, gray, and white. I have some firmer ideas but it’s hard to know where to go.

In an effort to make progress on the guest room/studio, I started cleaning it out. The space has been holding doors from other rooms, a bed no one will ever use, a dog and her crate, all the clothes that can’t fit in our real closet, all the art we don’t have frames for, and all the boxes of craft supplies and books that aren’t in the office. Since our office makeover comes first, I have to clear out space here to fit the office gear. So far I’ve managed to bundle 3 bags for donating and another bag to be discarded but it’s barely a dent. I go back in soon.

On the Web

Overdue for a vacation? I know I am. Here’s what happens when you don’t get away.

Doctor Who is back! Here’s one list ranking every Doctor Who from best to worst. I’ve only seen doctors 1, 9, 10, 11, and 12 (and the War Doctor) so I can’t compare them all.

My neighborhood is being overrun by squirrels. They’ve taunted us, one touched my ankle, and one may have left pizza in another neighbor’s tires. My friend Bethany shared this gallery of squirrels and their pizza when I shared my theories of a squirrel mafia.

Personal

We’re trying out our weekend hiking routine we like to do most falls. There’s something about a car ride, a hike with the dog, an outdoor picnic, then back home to curl up and nap on the couch, followed by dinner from the crockpot. This might be why I’m not making progress on the rest of the house. October will be our first month (and spoiler alert: we already did one) but I’m open to some good trails that you might like. 2-6 miles is our target and within 2 hours of St. Louis, give or take.

My curly girls will understand: I did 2 days of an outdoor music festival and my hair didn’t frizz or get out of control. I’ve been using Davines Love line and it is amazing. Pair it with some squish to condish technique and plopping and my curls aren’t going anywhere.

With my overflow closet getting cleaned out, I am doing the unthinkable and inventorying my closet. What’s the oldest shirt you still wear regularly? Not just some T-shirt from a concert or something you wear to clean in but rather something you still keep in your rotation? I have several pieces from 2009 and 2010 that still make appearances. It makes me think about fast fashion and buying lasting pieces. When you’re like me and deal with career changes and weight changes, it can be twice as hard. What brands do you find you can trust to last year after year?

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26 Sep
2015
Posted in: Household
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Ikea Has Arrived!

On Wednesday, September 30, the 41st Ikea store will open in St. Louis. Residents can begin lining up on Monday morning but today I managed to get a first look at the brand new store as part of their Ikea Friends and Family Preview Day.

Ikea Pass

Ikea St. Louis

The place was packed for a preview day. As soon as we got inside workers were cheering, handing out bags, maps, anything you could possibly need.

Ikea entrance

Ikea entrance

For me on this shopping day, I wanted to mostly stake out the store layout and some new pieces. I work only a block away from the new Ikea so once the fuss dies down I can pop over on my lunch break and grab what I need.

One of my favorite things about Ikea are the room displays. I love seeing wonderful ideas on how to use the products and how to think of new ways to enhance my home.

Ikea STL Kitchen

Ikea STL Kitchen

Ikea STL Kitchen

Ikea bedroom

I also really enjoy all the household items you can purchase from Ikea. I needed some cheap but sturdy dishes for my 3rd floor kitchen and found them for under $1 each. I found lots of office organizing gear, and even plants, both real and fake.

Ikea kitchen organizing

Ikea kitchen organizing

Ikea shelving

Ikea plants

I also really appreciated that Ikea had some special nods to St. Louis in its new store here. They had an exclusive STL piece of art.

Ikea St. Louis art

The Ikea food court also overlooked some great parts of the growing Midtown/CORTEX area including my workplace, the SLU campus, and the Cathedral Basilica. Speaking of the food court…

Ikea Swedish Meatballs

Ikea table

Ikea fod court

I brought along some guests with me for the big event and we all enjoyed some Swedish meatballs before hitting the lower level. I even ran into someone from my office building there and I have a feeling with the $1 breakfasts it won’t be the last time.

When we had enough (aka we hit the time limit for our pass), we went to the checkout. This massive place has a lot of lanes and they are ready for you.

Ikea STL checkout

Considering how stressful it must have been, the cashiers were calm, collected, and friendly. Having worked in retail I was seriously impressed and grateful.

After the checkout area you have a chance to buy some snacks or freezer items to take home with you. Those cinnamon rolls are so good despite not being as famous as the meatballs. If you have a long drive back to the suburbs, be sure to grab a snack for the road.

I’m thrilled St. Louis got an Ikea right in the heart of a growing area of the city. They aren’t necessarily a local store but they are investing in the community and I’m already investing in them with my purchases from today.

See more photos from my preview day over on my Facebook page!

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8 Sep
2015
Posted in: Household, Life
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Three Things: August

My August was not a vacation but instead kept me busier than I wanted. Here’s the scoop on what I was up to.

Heaven is smothered fries from The Shaved Duck

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Food

  • Do you know how hard it is to live by The Shaved Duck and know the lines are so long you can’t make it inside? It’s one of the best places in St. Louis. The smothered fries and brisket are my weakness. Miraculously one Friday night I was able to walk right in and be seated immediately. I had experienced the kind of day that only their fries and a beer could solve and I think someone knew it and cleared a spot for me.
  • My grill worked overtime in August. I know things like burgers and hot dogs aren’t too exciting but this pork loin from Skinnytaste was fantastic! Even better, the leftovers made for some amazing Cuban sandwiches.
  • Many people in St. Louis know Rooster for its brunch but lately it’s becoming my favorite place for dinner. It’s close enough I can walk if it’s early enough, they have parking if it’s later. Inside it’s intimate despite being huge but casual enough that I don’t need to fuss. It’s the perfect place to stop before or after a show at the Fox and a straight shot down Grand. You can go breakfast, crepes, steaks or try a nightly special. In August I had a pork belly and shrimp dish that blew me away.

penguin

Entertainment

  • I finally made it to see Miss Jubilee and a Jungle Boogie at the St. Louis Zoo. During the summer the zoo stays open late. I brought a picnic dinner (tip: bring a chair and not a blanket) and then roamed the rest of the zoo. There were so many animals and so few people so I had an up-close personal show from the penguins, the new polar bear, and all the big cats.
  • I had some doctor appointments in August so I took a half day and enjoyed some shopping with the money those visits should save me on insurance. I really enjoyed shopping at EverEve and stocked up on some fall fashions. I refuse to wear fall clothes before Labor Day or before the temperature drops so I still haven’t been able to show them off. They have lots of vests and cute layering pieces though.
  • I finally made it to the Festival of Nations in Tower Grove Park. My parents stopped by my house and we all walked over to try some bites. The empanadas from Argentina and jerk chicken from Jamaica got high marks from me.

House

  • I stalk the facebook pages of any antique/resale place I know about and when these lockers appeared on the page for The Green Shag Market, I knew I had to have them. Luckily my husband agreed. We have plans to make them even cooler and more functional so hopefully we can get to work on that soon.
  • I’m saving up to do a big project involving insulation. Some of the rooms in my house aren’t insulated very well (or at all) so some ceilings need to come down and some insulation needs to go in. This means I will probably put off any planned master suite or 3rd floor improvements until the dirty work gets done.
  • I picked up a drill and driver for the first time in forever this month. My basement is getting more functional by the day!

On the Web

Personal

  • My sweet Nova dog turned 8 years old in August. I can’t handle her getting so old but I want to say how she is a brave dog who tries so hard and loves so fiercely. I’d be lost without her.
  • My grandparents moved to Missouri! They grew up in Arkansas, settled in Missouri after getting married and for some years after, then moved to Arkansas together about 20 years ago. Now they have a new place together close to my parents.
  • Speaking of my grandparents, I caught my first cold in years from them the very first week they lived here. Let’s hope that doesn’t become a trend! Because of that August was not as successful as I hoped but there’s always next month.
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25 Aug
2015
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City Museum

City Museum

Just before my birthday I convinced my husband, my brother, and my brother’s girlfriend to come with me to the St. Louis City Museum. In case you don’t know, the City Museum is not some boring old museum. It’s a place where everyone can be a kid in a reclaimed metal jungle with slides, tunnels, and even some museum exhibits.

City Museum

City Museum

Since visiting here was a 30before30 goal, I knew I had to pay extra to visit the roof and see it all. The roof is only open in warm weather without rain so plan accordingly. You do get a discount on admission to the museum if you go on Friday or Saturday after 5 PM and the later you go, the more adults (and fewer kids) there will be. The museum serves alcohol and food so you can make a whole night of it.

City Museum

City Museum

If you’re a control freak like me, you’ll have to let go of that. There are no maps here and the museum is like a giant maze. Even if you get it figured out, the museum is “always growing” so there’s a new path or direction to take. There are tunnels you crawl through and more often than not I was having an 8 year old explain the path to a slide I wanted to take. Also, sliding is more difficult than I remembered. My husband turned out to be a champion slider while I wondered how I could make it down a 10-story slide. We opted to go up instead of down and try out the big Ferris wheel on top of the museum.

City Museum

One thing I learned at the City Museum is how old I really am. When people say “Bring kneepads!” it is not a joke. My knees and shins were bruised the whole next week from all my adventures. Still, we had a blast and I’m glad I had more time to spend with these awesome people.

City Museum

 

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4 Aug
2015
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July: Three Things

It's Friday @thelibertinestl and things are about to get seriously delicious!!! 314.862.2999 www.libertinestl.com

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Food

  • For my big birthday meal I decided to try The Libertine in Clayton. They’ve recently swapped chefs and had a menu redo and while I was a bit hesitant, I shouldn’t have been. Matt Bessler has made some fantastic decisions regarding the menu. We had mussels and bacon brodo with a broth so delicious I wanted to drink it up with a spoon. My husband had steak & frites while I had the Filet ‘Oscar’. Both of us equally loved our dishes and regretted not getting the others. (I also regret that my phone must have been so hungry it ate the photos when I attempted to transfer them) My steak was like butter and the crab cake had barely any fillers and was beyond delicious. For dessert we even had some bon bons. Ben Bauer is the beverage director here and he made some great decisions to source local liqueurs like Big Os. They are launching their happy hour menu this week and I know I’ll be back.
  • You all have the Skinnytaste Cookbook, right? I’m officially obsessed with it. The jerk pork tacos with mango salsa was fantastic. I’m not always one to mix fruit with my savory dishes but this was worth it. Bonus: This was a crockpot recipe and had lots of leftovers.
  • I got a new gas grill and we’ve been testing some new recipes. I’m loving the burgers my husband made, the skinnytaste Asian Glazed Drumsticks got a big thumbs up. Next up: I think I need to try a butcher for some ribs and steaks. Anyone been to an STL butcher?

Entertainment

  • I’ve loved The xx so now that Jamie Smith has come out as Jame xx in his solo act, I’m of course listening to the new album nonstop. Loud Places is my current favorite.
  • Please tell me someone else out there watches Orphan Black. I watched the first two seasons as fast as I could on Amazon Prime and now I can’t wait to get my hands on Season 3. Tatiana Maslany came out of nowhere to just wow me in her roles. Her acting is amazing.
  • I made it to the St. Louis Art Museum to see Beyond Bosch before it closed. I also had a great time looking at Thomas Cole’s Voyage of Life. Nothing like turning 30 to make you want to visit exhibits that cover mortality and aging.

The chairs have arrived for the office. It's getting closer to being complete! #mywestelm

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House

  • I managed to get the deal of a lifetime from West Elm on some new office chairs.  We’re getting closer to the office being finished.
  • Even better – we just got the brackets for some office shelving in the mail from an Etsy seller. I need to finalize some bookshelf plans or you know, start on them.
  • Not the sexiest of home improvements but we had our air conditioning system get some new intake for the air return and I swear I feel the improvement. I’m hoping my bills do too. I didn’t want to wait on improving my heating and cooling since it’s so important in the home. We have dual systems for the house and 3 stories so we need everything to work at its best. Hopefully 2015 was our year of service calls and repairs and in 2016 we’re just in maintenance mode. We’re onto our second home so we’ve taken a proactive approach to the big issues.

tn-p_lorri_fullframe_bw

On the Web

  • I remember growing up and hearing about New Horizons and the mission to Pluto but it still caught me by surprise when the photos began to come in. Pluto may have lost its planetary status during the journey there but I think it has captured my heart. Don’t forget the St. Louis Science Center is hosting a New Horizons themed Pluto party for August’s First Friday.
  • I’m taking all my inspiration for home decor from this Pinterest board. Didn’t every girl grow up and want a Practical Magic house?
  • I’m hugely invested in the justice and legal system so this story about life after prison really hit home for me.

Seoul taco and the city garden today for lunch.

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Personal

  • I got called for jury duty this month which wasn’t actually that bad. Two days of reading books, bad daytime TV, and eating lunch from food trucks in City Garden was pretty nice. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be picked (and not because I’m a criminal) so it wasn’t a surprise when I got sent home. So far my only days off work this year have been for a funeral and jury duty though so I need to step it up.
  • I was diagnosed with cancer on July 8, 2005 so now I’ve made it 10 years past that big day. Tomorrow marks 10 years since I started chemo. I had expected surviving cancer this long to be more of a celebration but it felt more solemn than that for me. People I cared for didn’t make it like I did and there’s always a dark cloud that comes with survival. It’s a lonely world when you’re diagnosed with cancer at 19 and it’s even lonelier down the road when you don’t have all those voices celebrating with you.
  • On a happier note, I turned 30 last week. My coworkers pretended not to know and pulled out a surprise birthday cake at the end of a lunch meeting. I went out with my girls to a happy hour and we got to remark on just how far we’ve all come in the last year. I had a nice dinner out with my husband and phone calls from family. My husband even made me a custom piece of art featuring our girl Nova. Then the next morning I work up with back spasms to remind me that I just can’t fight aging.

My husband made me a beautiful watercolor of our Nova dog!

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28 Jul
2015
Posted in: Household
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The Desk

Any day now I’m expecting some office chairs and shelf brackets to arrive and it reminds me that I’ve never shown off my new beautiful desk.

Back in September of last year I had a chance to see some tables and desks made by a local company called Rustic Grain. The company uses reclaimed wood from barns in the St. Louis metro area. You can see the desks, bars, tables, and even lights at local places like Juniper, CIC, or Death in the Afternoon. I didn’t even have a contract on a house and I knew I’d be using Rustic Grain to build me something. My husband was on board and back in March we finally settled on the idea of a desk big enough for the both of us.

Showroom sample wall nearing completion! #wood

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Jimmy from Rustic Grain met with us in their workshop. He showed us how the wood was being used, the skills of his employees, and what they were capable of. We discussed things like size first but he gave us lots of options for finishes and even wood. We were able to get bids from him for just plain milled wood, sanded barnwood, or rough barnwood that would have an epoxy layered over it. It was the last option that sold us and got us to sign on the dotted line.

One of the neat things was that they would post teaser photos on social media of my desk being made. I love knowing the steps made to create the piece. (All photos below courtesy of Rustic Grain)

Desk frame

Desk wood

Wood in desk

Epoxy 2

Epoxy 1

Isn’t that gorgeous? The desk was ready for delivery right around Independence Day and thankfully they took care of getting it up my stairs and into place.

Desk in office

Desk wood final

Desk against brick

Doesn’t that just look fantastic against the brick? Like I mentioned earlier, I’ve got some black chairs on their way and some iron brackets to go above the desk for some open shelving. I’m still having trouble with a rug (has anyone tried a jute rug with office chairs?) and a new light but soon this little nook will be complete.

Rustic Grain is a fantastic place to work with and they make a quality custom product. They’ve in no way compensated me for this review but I really loved working with them so I wanted to give them a shoutout. It’s important to me to support local businesses and this company is a great one to work with and made me a beautiful desk. It’s been 6+ years since I’ve had a desk to sit at in my home and this one is a dream.

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3 Jun
2015
Posted in: Food
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Splendid Ice Cream

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams has finally come to St. Louis! Wednesday night I was part of a preview event thanks to an invite from Yelp. The night before the big launch we got to sample some free ice cream.

jenis-storefront

My love for Jeni’s started when some friends in Ohio wouldn’t stop posting about it. Then one day at the mall I spied the cookbook and it was fate. I made salted caramel ice cream and milkiest chocolate ice cream and I was hooked. When Aaron, our lovely Yelp community manager, sent out a call for people to attend the big launch I had to jump.

jenis flavors

The store is located right in the Central West End and per Jeni is one of their biggest storefronts. It’s so clean and open and soon it will be filled with people experiencing some of the best ice cream ever.

jenis store

Jeni was on hand for the preview tonight and she is just as amazing in person. I was trying so hard not to fangirl too much but I got to hear some of her plans to bring St. Louis locally sourced ingredients to the ice cream. She is so warm and passionate about her food and she can just name off her chocolate supplier from memory because every product comes from a person, not just some corporate no name.

jeni and aaron

Speaking of, the flavors are amazing. There’s ice cream, frozen yogurt, sorbet, and so many toppings too. You can even have a sundae or a float. The staff there were so welcoming. If they even saw you eye a flavor they’d have a sample ready to go. When I tried the mango lassi and liked it they immediately told me I had to try the lemon frozen yogurt. The flavor tasted just like when you are a kid and at an amusement park in the summer and eating that fair food but in a wholesome way. Fantastic.

jenis-flavors

I picked up a lemon frozen yogurt + red raspberry sorbet for my husband. For myself, I went with a pistachio and honey + brown butter almond brittle with the salty caramel sauce. It was probably the best thing ever. St. Louis gets hot this summer and I will need a lot of Jeni’s to survive it.

both flavors

Thursday night from 7 – 11 PM Jeni will be hosting the grand opening. Ice cream is free for those four hours. Get down there early and enjoy!

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1 Jun
2015
Posted in: Life
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May: Three Things

I can’t believe it is already June. Maybe that has to do with the fact that I had to sleep with an extra blanket on the bed last night and I’m in long sleeves today. Either way, here’s some of what I was up to off-the-blog last month:

Low Country Boil

Food

  • Imagine my surprise when my brother told me that we were making my mom crab legs for Mother’s Day. My brother is not always so prepared so I was taken aback. I decided to run with the theme and make a low country boil for mom.
  • When I moved to the new neighborhood, I had no idea I lived near a martini bar. Do you know how nice it is to be able to walk home after a couple drinks?
  • The husband and I went to the South Grand Dine Around. You get passes to enjoy an appetizer, a main course, a drink, a dessert, and another small taste from restaurants representing all sorts of nationalities.

South Grand Dine Around

Entertainment

  • This was a month for finales. The Mad Men finale wasn’t quite what I expected but the final few episodes really wrapped up the show. I also finally watched The Wire finale. Talk about a heartbreaking show. Both shows had some of the best episodes of TV that I have ever seen.
  • I rented a movie in person for the first time in over 10 years. Can you believe it? I was a Netflix subscriber years ago when they still sent you discs for that low rate and since then I have always waited for movies to just make their way to cable. I finally decided to try Redbox and now I’m wondering why I waited so long.
  • I’m so disappointed I can’t make the Postmodern Jukebox show this week at The Pageant, especially after seeing this video of their cover of Bad Romance. Oh, the tap dancing!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VCTOpdlZJ8U

House

  • I finally got some furniture on the 2nd story balcony. It’s not much yet but at least I can go outside. My big plans involve rugs, all the flowers it can fit, and a potting bench.
  • The third story deck is now becoming urgent. I only have a few chairs left from the last owners and no place to put all the people I’d like.
  • The biggest reason work isn’t done? The basement! We left our workbench behind at the last house, our current basement is full of our stuff and leftovers from the old owners and it needs an intervention. We’re drawing up plans for shelves and workbenches this week so maybe we can finally start building.

Deck2

On the Web

Regram @nicoleyoley #ihavethisthingwithfloors 👸🏻

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Personal

  • I joined a community garden this month. I’m the youngest by about 20-30 years with the exception of my husband. Our first mission: rebuild some damaged rain barrel bases.
  • I became a Yelp Elite member and just attended my first event. My next big event is this week and I can’t wait to share it with you.
  • My workplace is having this healthy living program this summer. Last month’s big goal was to increase our steps. This month’s big goal is to eat more veggies. Next month’s big goal is to get more sleep. Naturally I’ve injured my feet and just had my first podiatrist appointment. The good news is that I can still keep walking but the bad news is I need to wear ugly shoes. Such is life.
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29 May
2015
Posted in: DIY Projects, Life
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Painting Something Other Than Walls

When I set my 30before30 goal of taking a class, I really thought I’d end up in a cooking class or maybe as a stretch I’d be in a stained glass class on Main Street St. Charles. Imagine my surprise when I ended up in a painting class. I haven’t painted anything since I was 10. But there’s no better time than the present.

Pinot's Palette

I ended up joining my local Yelp Elite team at Pinot’s Palette. It’s one of those drink and eat while you paint kind of things. More than that, I went solo to an event where I had never met anyone. It was a little intimidating but nothing a little alcohol and music couldn’t fix.
 beer at painting
Painting Class
Julie Painting
I was surprised at how much fun it was to paint and I’m even more surprised that I want to do it again. Maybe even sit at home in a to-be-completed craft room and make something original myself. That was the point of setting this goal: I wanted to encourage myself to learn something new and to push my boundaries. I definitely managed to do that and even came home with a nice souvenir.
Finished work
Thanks to Yelp for hosting this event along with Pinot’s Palette. Certain photos are courtesy of Yelp/Pinot’s Palette.
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19 May
2015
Posted in: Household, Life
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To All the Homes I’ve Loved Before

When I moved in with my husband, I knew our first house wasn’t a forever home. When he’d bought it a few years earlier and before we attacked it with sledgehammers, we thought 3-5 years was the magic number on how long we’d be living there. By the time I moved out it had been over 7 years. In 2013 we started talking about how we should do some home improvements based on selling the home and no longer what we wanted to live in the home. We made a few changes with paint colors, adding trim in key places, the kinds of stuff that don’t make for fun and exciting blog posts. In early 2014 I actually started going through basement totes and making the save/trash decision. I’d been living in a house full of totes that had never been opened. It was depressing. It also helped me make a wish list for my next big house. Then came a job change and the momentum was on.

My goal was originally to have the house ready for market by spring 2015 and instead I was home shopping a year earlier than planned. We toured our first home on March 30 and moved in December 16. Here’s how our home buying journey went.

Went to some open houses today 🙂

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My husband and I started by making wish lists. We had several differences but here’s the things we agreed on:

  • More than 1 bathroom (yes, we lived with 1 bathroom for over 7 years)
  • Multi-story
  • Off-street covered parking
  • Historic Home
  • Close to the city
  • Close to work
  • Outdoor space for the dog
  • Sidewalks
  • Near a park
  • Workspaces for each of us (craft space for me, woodshop for him, office for both)

CityNeighborhoods

It sounded so easy. I pulled up a map, located Targets, grocery stores, parks, and our workplaces and plotted out some ideal neighborhoods. Most people don’t realize that “Saint Louis” can refer to St. Louis City or St. Louis County. Locals will tell you they are beyond different while out-of-towners hear it and think that the entire metro area is a place they’ll be murdered in. Even our family and friends have been confused. We did look at the county in places like Clayton, University City, Maplewood but none of them felt right. People had unrealistic expectations of selling prices in these areas so we moved on.

We kept attending 5-10 Open Houses a weekend. After some more searches and missteps we narrowed our home search to 7 neighborhoods – Skinker DeBaliviere, Central West End, Shaw, Tower Grove South, Tower Grove East, Compton Heights, or Lafayette Park. Each neighborhood bordered either Forest Park, Tower Grove Park, or Lafayette Park, offered historic homes, had crime rates we were comfortable with, and had good access to highways or roads that would get us to work with minimal traffic. By Mother’s Day, it was time to call in an agent. Luckily it was as easy as a phone call to my dad.

House shopping in Compton Heights

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My dad didn’t play. He set us up with listing after listing, getting a feel for what we were looking for beyond location. Did we want beautiful woodwork and a nice patio if it put one of us without a garage and on the very edge of our neighborhood? We couldn’t afford houses on a rich tree-lined parkway next to Missouri Botanical Gardens but what if we fixed up a foreclosure below our price point? What if only part of the house was finished and we couldn’t live in the whole house for months until we rehabbed it? Houses got nicknames “The Dolphin Tub House”, “Yellow Highlighter House”, “First Flad”, “Second Flad”, “Love Pad Flad”. You start to see it all. These were hard choices. The stress was killer. Week after week we looked, week after week I commuted 2-3 hours a day.

Not our home

We finally decided on a home to put an offer on at the end of July. And then it disappeared from the market. My dad did the agent thing and got the listing agent to put it back on telling the buyers not to give up hope of a sell. “The ‘V’ House” we called it. By August 3 we submitted an offer. Naturally it wasn’t meant to be; the sellers didn’t want to go any lower and we were convinced it wasn’t worth any higher. They pulled it again, we walked away. We flirted with 2 other homes pretty seriously but the agents were clear there wasn’t room to negotiate. We’d seen the market analysis and didn’t play the game with them. We found another home we loved and before we got in the door it sold. We were able to walk through it and that made it even tougher. It was a second loss. Mid-October we finally made an offer on another house, “The ‘B’ House”, and again we couldn’t meet in the middle. We were nearing the end of the selling season. For 2 weeks we didn’t see any homes enter the market. The stress of my commute and house hunting was making me ill. I felt like I was trapped in limbo and doomed by my own unwillingness to pay more than a house was worth.

And then “The ‘V’ House” came back on the market. At a lower price. And “The ‘B’ House’s seller suddenly wanted to play ball again. We went all in and made one more very final but very competitive offer on “The ‘V’ House” and they accepted. It was the first week of November. Closing was set for 10 days before Christmas. I think of it as a Christmas miracle. At some point I’ll cover some logistics of moving with you and some lessons I learned there as well as a profile of our new neighborhood – Tower Grove East.

Hope #latergram

A post shared by Julie (@thehyperhouse) on

The lesson I learned in the home buying search is not to let your desperation make a decision you aren’t okay with. We seriously considered 5 homes and we believed 4 of those were drastically overpriced. We had been through over 100 homes in St. Louis (not an exaggeration) and felt confident we knew what added and subtracted value. Those homes we didn’t buy? All 3 of them ended up selling within $2000 of what we’d offered or discussed offering with the agent. In the moment I was actually willing to lower my standards and open my wallet more and now I know I was right to stay the course. It’s hard to be patient and it’s hard to keep going but it can be worth it. I love what we waited so long for.

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