Inspiration Board No. 100: Anne of Green Gables

26 March 2013

Here it is – inspiration board no. 100! Inspired by the beginning of spring and one of my very favorite children’s novels, I decided to imagine an Anne of Green Gables wedding. I did take some modern liberties — no puffed sleeves here, I’m sure much to Anne’s dismay — but I did include several hallmarks of the beloved books.

Anne-of-Green-Gables-inspiration-board

Did you spot them? I included a redhead with upswept hair (since Anne so looked forward to putting hers up!); a bouquet overflowing with spring flowers, like one Anne might have collected from Violet Vale; and a spot that could be a modern-day White Way of Delight. There’s also a beribboned bridge gesturing toward the one where Anne and Gilbert have their moment at the end of book one; a red cocktail in honor of raspberry cordial/currant wine; books as centerpieces; a berry cake that looks like one Anne might have made Diana; and a boat for setting sail on the Lake of Shining Waters.

Do you love the Anne series, too? I’ve never seen the movie(s), but I hear some people love them as much as the books!

Redhead bride photo by Elizabeth Messina, dogwood bouquet photo by Jose Villa, wild berry arrangement photo by KT Merry via Once Wed, blooming lane, be-ribboned bridge photo by Lexia Frank via Southern Weddings, red cocktail photo by Annabella Charles via Grey Likes Weddings, strawberry cake by Chelsea Fuss via Project Wedding, book photo by KT Merry via 100 Layer Cake, and boat photo by Lisa O’Dwyer via 100 Layer Cake

Picks for spring

25 March 2013

My friend Nancy just posted a great challenge on her blog. You should go check it out for yourself, but the gist is that participants will give up shopping for clothes, accessories, household decor, and “stuff” in the months of April, May, and June.

My initial instinct was to enthusiastically join in, because unsurprisingly I love a good budget challenge. But then, I thought about a few things:

Point one: So far, I have spent $0 of my clothing budget for 2013. No accessories, either. I’ve effectively been holding my own one-person challenge for the first quarter of the year.
Point two: In the whole of 2012, I spent $182.15 on clothing and accessories, not counting the dress I bought for our rehearsal dinner and a dress I bought for a work event. The exact items: 1 yellow striped shirt, 1 bathing suit, 1 belt, 1 scarf, 1 pink tunic, 1 pink blouse, 1 pair of earrings, and $20 of my cowboy boots (the rest was in gift cards!).
Point three: I realized last weekend that I wore shirts with holes in them for three days in a row.

Now, I’m certainly not saying that I’m destitute, and I’m obviously not asking for pity — I have what many consider to be a full closet, and it’s not that we don’t necessarily have the money to spend, it’s just that we choose to spend it on (or save it for) other things.

But, it’s gotten to the point where I’m so used to NOT spending money on clothing that’s it’s become very difficult to pull the trigger. Which is a good thing, of course, but I now seem to be incapable of spending even gift cards: for example, I currently have a $40 Nordstrom gift card and almost $200 in J.Crew gift cards that have been sitting in my wallet for months. Ridiculous! So, with spring (hopefully?) around the corner, and our honeymoon coming up, I’ve decided it’s time to spend… just a little :) Here are a few of the pieces I’m eyeing:

spring-picks

1. Cross-back sundress in sunshine ($56) | 2. One-shoulder dress in soft fuchsia ($35) | 3. Short-sleeve dress in emerald ($34) | 4. Striped maxi dress ($98) | 5. Striped top in green ($15) | 6. Striped dress in coral ($28) | 7, 8, 10. Chino shorts in neon azalea, bright spearmint, and cerise ($28) | 9. Girls’ patent tortoise belt ($10) | 11. Skinny jeans in spearmint ($50) | 12. Gingham shirt ($44) | 13. Neon pink studs ($15) | 14. Sophia studs in clover ($32) | 15. Leather sandals ($50)

Any favorites?

House search update no. 2

21 March 2013

It’s been just about two months since my last house search update. We’re still searching, so I figured it was time for another!

About one week after my previous post, we went under contract on a house! Wheeee! This one couldn’t have been more different from the first house we put an offer on — it was in a downtown area, it was historic, and it needed some love. I actually mentioned it in this post — it’s the one that was right across from a school. It had been on our radar for a few months, but we didn’t pursue it because it was on the upper end of our budget. But after doing some extensive research on the neighborhood, we felt like it was overvalued, and that the seller might be willing to drop the price.

wraparound front porch

We scheduled a visit, loved it in person, and figured we’d write an offer in the next few days. That afternoon our realtor forwarded us an email that the seller’s agent had sent to all of the buyers’ agents that had ever taken clients to see the property, saying that the seller was willing to drop the price by $20,000, but wanted to be under contract by the end of the week or was going to take begin renting it.

Yikes! That certainly lit a fire under us, so we met with our realtor the next morning to write an offer. Within a few hours, the seller had countered our offer, which we accepted.

We immediately launched into inspections, as we wanted to know as soon as possible if there was something major that we needed to know about, budget-wise. We knew the seller had purchased the home two years ago, and that he had done some extensive updates: additional stabilizing under the roof and floor, new water pipes, new electrical, a new HVAC system, etc. Our inspection was very thorough (four hours!), but thankfully didn’t turn up anything major — no mold, no termites, no engineering issues. That being said, we knew there were still immediate updates that would need to be made: many of the windows were stuck closed (fire hazard!), there were no smoke detectors, there was some knob and tube wiring in the attic (outdated and dangerous), there were a few random plumbing and electrical issues, and the chimneys would need to be stabilized within 1-2 years.

pocket door

We also knew we were dealing with lead paint and asbestos. We brought in two companies to give us remediation estimates, and the numbers were rather frightening. To make this house work for us (and our budget!) we planned to do as much of the updating as possible, learning as we went. Unfortunately, with lead and asbestos, amateurs are highly discouraged from doing the work, so with this huge project we would have missed out on the cost savings from tackling the demo ourselves. A frustrating way to start!

For better or worse, we never actually got to the point where we needed to make a decision on whether or not we could afford the initial outlay to make the house (at least to our eyes) safe and inhabitable. The appraisal came back about $35,000 under our purchase price, and since the seller was not willing to budge a dollar, we were forced to walk away. As some of you probably know, a bank will not lend for more than the appraised price. Even if we could have made up the $35,000 difference in cash, we wouldn’t have wanted to start that far in the hole, equity-wise; we also would have needed that $35,000 ON TOP of whatever cash we needed to set aside for initial remodeling.

built in hutch

We sadly canceled the contract last week. In the end, if we had to part ways, I’m glad that our decision was made for us, because I think I would have had a hard time walking away from such potential on my own two feet. And let me tell you, this house oozed potential out of every pore. From its massive wrap-around front porch, to its huge and flat yard (one of our key criteria!), to the adorable dormer, corner lot, massive windows, high ceilings, FIVE fireplaces, gorgeous wood floors, built-in hutch, and – possibly my personal favorite — pocket door, believe me when I say I had dreams of this being our forever home, fixed up to perfection over the next ten years. But, it was not meant to be.

And we’re okay with that. Honestly, at this point I think we’re just a little more tired of the whole search process than distraught over this particular house. We’ve considered taking a break, but we really don’t want to miss out on current interest rates. We’re pressing on for the moment, truly grateful to even be in the position of looking, and thankful that we live in an apartment we love while we wait. Here’s hoping luck is around the corner!

Making Things Happen

18 March 2013

I was very honored to speak at the first Making Things Happen conference last week, and I wanted to tell you just a little bit about it. If you’ve never experienced MTH, it’s a bit hard to describe, but if I had to sum it up in one sentence, I’d say Making Things Happen is about inspiring people to take bold, positive action toward aligning their lives with their core values so that all of their effort is channeled toward furthering their life’s mission, whatever that may be. It attracts a lot of creative entrepreneurs, especially ones who are looking for a better work-life balance.

For this year’s two-day conference, Lara, Emily, and Gina welcomed 100 guests and five speakers (including me!) for the traditional MTH “curriculum” on day one, and more directly-applicable business lessons on day two. Since Em for Marvelous is my side business, I’m not that used to speaking publicly about it, but it was a joy to sit down and really analyze why I do what I do in preparation for my talks. I’m still mulling over some of the things I heard, goals I set, and truths I uncovered, but there was one activity that really resonated with me, and so I wanted to share a little snippet with y’all. We were asked to brainstorm on what our brand believes, and these are just a few of the things I wrote down:

A marvelous life

What do you think? Does this list resonate with you? Anything you’d add? I’m hoping to make a more official version to post, and if I do, I will let you know!

P.S. It was such a pleasure to meet so many of you! Thank you SO much for coming up and introducing yourselves!!

P.P.S. I was humbled to be in such great company among my fellow guest speakers: Nancy, Stefanie, Michelle, and Amber. Go check these ladies out!

Marvelous Mondays: Easter Eggs

11 March 2013

Growing up, my favorite part of Easter was Pysanka eggs. From my birth until a few years ago, my grandmother painstakingly made all of her grandchildren a new design each year, and I loved (and still love) to look at the eggs each year when we take them out of their crates. They’re so delicate that it’s impossible to ship them and challenging to travel with them, so my whole collection is at home in Connecticut right now and unable to be shared with you all. Some day! Until then, I’m inspired by these five marvelous and modern techniques…

water-color-eastereggs

gilded easter dip-dyed-eggs

neon dip dyed easter eggs

golden marbled easter eggs

speckled easter eggs

From top to bottom: watercolor Easter eggs by Spoon Fork Bacon; gilded Easter eggs via HGTV; neon dip-dyed Easter eggs by Merriment Events via Oh Joy (photo by Katie Stoops); golden marbled Easter eggs by SheKnows; speckled Easter eggs by Sandy Toes and Popsicles

Which one is your favorite?