Stages of Home Buying in Denver

Here’s what the last month of our lives has looked like.

Our budget is $xyz,000.
We want 3 bedrooms.
2 bathrooms would be nice, but we could live with 1.

Could we live with one bathroom?
Well, we could add one in a few years. How much is a bathroom?
Oh. We want a 3 bd, 2 bath house.

Do we need 3 bedrooms? It’s just the two of us.
Look how cute this 2 bed, 1 bath house is.
And it’s in a great neighborhood – the one we already live in!
Cute layout! Cute architectural details! Cute!

Well, great neighborhood might be an over exaggeration.

Our new car got broken into. We don’t want to live in this neighborhood.

Cute means small. Two bedrooms isn’t going to get us very far when we have a kid. What if we have two?

Ok, so we want 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms.

Our budget is still $xyz,000, but could we stretch it?

Maybe a few grand, nothing more. What’s on the market in our budget?

Needs to be gutted, but trendy neighborhood.
Needs to be gutted, in up and coming neighborhood.
Needs to be gutted, in a crappy neighborhood.
Needs to be torn down, but the property is stunning!
Needs to be torn down, and comes with plans for a $750k modern masterpiece house!
Needs to be torn down.

Oh. Oh my gosh. Did you see this one? It’s in our budget.
It’s kitchen is remodeled.
It’s got three bedrooms.
We could live with one bathroom if the kitchen is remodeled.
Let’s go see it. This could be it.
Sold. Off the market before we even emailed our realtor.

We’ll find one. There has to be one out there for us.
Nope. Another one bites the dust.
We’re never going to find a house.
Fuck it, we should just rent for another year.
Whoa. Did you see how much rent went up last year?
Let’s look at more houses.

Did you see this one? It’s got three bedrooms and two bathrooms.
It’s quirky.
It’s kitchen is vintage. Quaint. Charming. Are those metallic bronze tiles?
But square feet. It has lots of them.
And a back yard. Partially covered.
Carport. But in a safe neighborhood.
I can live with a carport.
I can live with bronze kitchen tiles.
I can live with this house.
Can we live with this house?
Can we have a family here?

I think so.
I do too.
Fuck it. Let’s put in an offer.
There are already two other offers.
We aren’t going above $xyz,000.
We’ll offer $5k above $xyz,000.
And wait.
And wait.
Offer was accepted.
Wait. What?

Holy shit. Did we offer too much?
Why did they accept our offer?
Is there a murderous dungeon in the basement?
Why did they accept our offer?
Are we in a floodzone despite being in a semi-dessert?
Is there something we missed?

Why did they accept our offer? Is this too good to be true?
We’ll see what the inspection says.

To be continued…. wish us luck!

Fall in Aspen, or, Perfection

One of the most incredible places I’ve visited since moving to Colorado? Aspen. We headed up to Aspen to visit friends this fall, and I can’t get it out of my head. A few snaps of the weekend exploring.

The drive to Aspen is incredible. On the way up, it was already dark, but Sunday was such a surprise!
We pulled off the road to take in more of the view. This hardly does the scene justice.
If one day I can live in a forest of Aspens, I’ll be very happy.
While on the trip, we headed up the mountain on a lift and went for a hike. A must-do if you visit Aspen.
This ragtag bunch made the trip!

IMG_3997 IMG_3993

At the top of mountain is a little cabin which we paused at for a bit to rest and take in the view.
The weather changes in a second. See the clouds in the picture above? Always on the lookout for storm clouds.
Love having this guy home from Mexico!
These two. Look at those smiles. Aspen is beautiful. So are the people.
Remember when I said Aspen is beautiful? ❤ the mountains.


Driving! We took Independence Pass instead of the main highway. Highly recommend it for the views.
That said, it is not a drive for the faint of heart…
Cheesing at the Continental Divide. By cheesing, I mean freezing. SO cold.
Always thankful for tourists who swap photographer duties. Especially when they know how to use my camera better than I do.
Very different scenery without the sun. Worth the pull off and quick walk on the path to see.

Can’t wait to go back to Aspen in 2015. It is a must. And now that Leo is back home for good from his international work adventure, we can plan it!

Travel: New York in the Fall

Does it get prettier than this?
Does it get prettier than this?

Leo’s company invited us to a West Point football game in New York a few weeks back and we stayed in Manhattan at the Omni Berkshire. I’d always thought that I wouldn’t like NYC because I don’t love big cities after living in Chicago for 7 years, but I was mistaken. I adored New York City. Everything about it had me dreaming of moving there right away.

After meeting Leo outside of the city when I flew on Thursday night, we took an early morning cab into Manhattan. Coming into the city, I had the same butterflies I have when I see the skyline in Chicago. A curious excitement. As we drove, I couldn’t take my eyes off all the little shops, the traffic, the people, the clothes, the energy of such a huge city. Hour 1 in NYC = hooked.

After checking into the gorgeous hotel, we only had a few hours before we had to start getting ready for dinner with the company. Never the one to shy away from touristy things, we hopped on a bus to drive around and see as much as humanly possible in three hours. It rained a ton, but there we sat on the top of an outdoor double-decker bus and took everything in. Seeing the neighborhoods fly by just made me more excited for my next trip! We will be exploring a few select neighborhoods next time instead of trying to see everything.

Look up. Always look up.
Look up. Always look up.

We had dinner at Carmine’s, and then grabbed drinks at the hotel before calling it a night. Had to be up early the next morning for some football! We drove out to West Point on a coach bus with Leo’s company and napped most of the ride up, but the view we woke up to was incredible. That campus is a stunner. The game was great, hanging out with Leo’s company and meeting all the folks I’ve heard so much about was great. Everything was great!

West Point's campus in the fall is a picture of perfection.
West Point’s campus in the fall is a picture of perfection.
We cheered loudly for the West Point team, such a great east coast college experience.
We cheered loudly for the West Point team, such a great east coast college experience.

photo 21

Docks on the river.
Docks on the river.
Really, this place is incredible.
Really, this place is incredible.
The colors of the fall in the hills of New York would make any summer baby fall in love.
The colors of the fall in the hills of New York would make any summer baby fall in love.
❤ this picture – bummed it is a bit blurry!
The train station on campus with some of the incredible fortress-like buildings in view.
The train station on campus with some of the incredible fortress-like buildings in view.
A little pre-game tailgating in a tent on the water.
A little pre-game tailgating in a tent on the water.

I can’t wait until our next trip to NYC, which I imagine will be upon us in the next year. We spent Saturday night on the lower east side, and then headed back that way for Sunday brunch before I hopped on a plane home. Leo had a few more days of work in Connecticut, which gave me plenty to time to dream about living in that glorious city before we settle down. I’ll be back soon, NYC, and missing you until that time!

Lower east side breakfast: gruyere, egg and spinach skillet, perfect bloody mary, and bacon.
Lower east side breakfast: gruyere, egg and spinach skillet, perfect bloody mary, and bacon.
Freeman's - the cutest restaurant in a perfect little alley. Lower east side.
Freeman’s – the cutest restaurant in a perfect little alley. Lower east side.

A world away


Two weeks ago we went up into the mountains which I already recapped, but I wanted to share a few more shots. The first one was snapped from the car as we drove out of the city. Imagine if only I used a real camera… You’ll note the traffic (not anything compared to Chicago, though)! We’d heard about this phenomena when we got here – folks leave the city to go into the mountains on the weekends. Less than two hours and you are a world away from work, stress and the city. This is why I moved here. 

So, on Friday night, we saw tons of folks driving up into the mountains inspiring various recreational activities with all the trailers, bikes and boats we saw behind SUVs. Funny thing is, people here with SUVs actually use them for SUV-esque activities. Who knew?


Also wanted to shares these shots of Leo and I because they make me laugh! Love the final resulting photo, but sorta love the laughs that led to it. Love this kid and love getting away from it all with him and our friends here! Neon is also a fave for sunburns. Looks good and cotton feels great against the skin. 

What’s your favorite way to escape? 

Love #5: The People that Make you Shine

My family is my rock. No ifs and or buts about it. Beyond being the folks that raised me, they are my constant supporters in everything I do. Today’s post is all about my dad and what he’s taught me. I’ve written about our family history and if I could figure out hyper linking on an iPad I’d totally link back…sorry, but his family is fascinating. My post earlier this week was about my mom and many of her wonderful traits that I see in myself, but today, this story is about my dad.

He taught my brothers and I curiosity – in my opinion, a core tenet in the life of successful happy people. Life isn’t boring when you are curious, there is value in learning something new, anything new, and curiosity didn’t kill the cat, it just taught him something new – he has nine lives, not one as previously thought before curiosity. Along with that curiosity, we got into tons of trouble: a burning boat at a Venetian night on the lake I grew up on, learning how many fireworks it takes to successfully blow up a Ft. Dearborn model made from pretzels, the basics of engines – steam and internal combustion, how to use power tools (safety first), how to build a lofted bed and not hit your head, mastery of tedious handmade pasta and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies… we learned a lot.

Of course none of these adventurous things play a role in my day to day life (but I’d be happy to build furniture and engines all day), the curiosity for everything remains. Flying used to scare me a tad because I didn’t get it – large metal objects don’t fly. Until you learn physics and it all makes sense….well, it makes sense to a PhD, but the basics of physics make me feel safe, you get the point. Learning will help you conquer all fears – real and rational or those other kinds of fear (ahem, irrational anxiety).

My dad taught us to question things, my mom taught us to trust our emotions, and together they taught us about the importance of love in a home. They are the people that make me want to shine brighter, go further, be smarter, and laugh more. Day five of love! Tomorrow will be about my girlfriends. Unless of course we drink too much wine at my bestest’s annual dip party and I postpone the post until Saturday.

Love #4: Cookies and the sweet things

I love cookies, especially cookies that remind me of being a kid baking with my dad (theme of tomorrow, I’m excited!). Double especially when I make the first batch and they are as ugly as the ones below. Then I smile when the next batch looks less droopy and mashed. And then, the third batch that burnt a bit … well, they are my favorite because dipped in milk, they yield the best dark chocolate and oatmeal flavor and crunch. This, folks, is why cookies are great – even in the less-than-perfect ones, there is perfection. Life lesson taught through love and cookies.

Also, meet my new mixer. Thinking of naming her Charlie. Or would it be a him? Nope, her name is Charlie!


Also, I was going to bring cookies to work, but got anxious because they are so ugly. My mom told me that these cookies have always been ugly, but nobody notices because they are so good. Maybe next adventure in baking, but for now, new baking jitters are getting the best of me. Is this normal?

Love and cookies,

Manic(ure) Monday: Love #2 Nail Polish and Books

One day before Valentine’s Day! A little pink, purple and gold plaid on the nails and a big smile on my face. I’m making cookies for Leo for Valentine’s Day, reading magazines and relaxing. That leads me to two of the things that I love a ton – nail polish and printed material (books, magazines, heck, I even love maps). I stopped in to my local nail polish supplier and picked up a few new colors for late winter and into the start of spring, but the main goal was a fun magenta base for v-day nails. You’ll note these pretty bottles sitting a top a very pretty Harry Potter book. See how I’m combining two loves into one Manic(ure) Monday?

My favorite magazines include all the fashion glossies, some women’s lifestyle, cooking and home decor with a dash of history/culture with the Smithsonian.

In the book arena, I love all things popular and have no qualms about reading enjoyable literature – romance novels, textbooks (history), biographies, young adult (Potter anyone? What about The Hunger Games?), the list goes on. If it feels like a book and smells like a book and barks like a book, I love it. I’m even liking books on my iPad, but shhhhh, don’t tell my English Lit lover of a grandma. She’d be heartbroken.

Off to eat my dad’s Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and then to bed! And yes, that’s a hint for Wednesday’s post.

Hope you lovelies have a wonderful Valentine’s Day and don’t forget to tell someone and some more ones that you love them! Everyone needs a little more love, that’s why holidays like tomorrow exist!



Love #1: Celebrating my Mom

This week is Valentine’s Day, so to celebrate I’ll be posting seven days of Love.

Today is dedicated to my mom! She’s my best friend, she’s the one I call after good days and bad, and she inspires me to be a better person. She is smart, pushes me to always be smarter and push harder – most of all, she is compassionate! She also helps me balance my emotions with logic and always gives me the best advice. She’s the shit.

My mom knows me better than anyone and makes me laugh all the time. Last week, she sent me an early Valentine’s Day present that is 100% me. This little bottle of perfume from the Harajuku Lovers is hilarious. I laughed when I opened it because I knew my mom was trying to cheer me up. She’s good like that! When my dad lived in Japan, I picked up a habit of loving all things Japanese, and have a super soft spot for Hello Kitty and Japanese packaging. And superheroes named Super G? That are blonde and wear glasses? Yep, this is one of my alter-egos in a jar. My mom lives far away but she knows how to make me smile and always reminds me that she is never too far away.


Another great thing about my mom is that I see a lot of her in me. A few of my favorite characteristics – sensitivity, intuitiveness, kindness, passionate and compasionate – are directly from her!

Day one of Love goes to my mom! How do you celebrate the people you love?