Buying a new home is hard and other luxury problems

Our new home in Boulder

I’ve played the hermit crab this spring, retreating to my shell… mostly because I’ve been convalescing (read: sleeping 9+ hours a night) after a compression fracture of my L1 vertebra during some Xtreme sledding in early winter. (Sledding is now off the approved activities list btw.)

Throughout my recovery, I have been keeping busy, though—looking for a house.

With a dearth of homes for sale in Boulder, it’s slim pickin’s. The house we (finally) went into contract on is not like the architect-designed home with the solarium that we bid on in January. It’s nothing like the single-owner ’60s brick ranch that needed work but could have been a charming period piece with gorgeous maple floors—another one we lost out on to a cash offer. It’s a generic house in a small subdivision built in the 1980s. Nothing special. And very blue.

Politicians in this country give a lot of lip service about supporting small business. But it’s total crap. I pay 45% of my income in tax even though I make less than $75,000 each year. We shell out $1,200 a month for health insurance and still have huge per-person deductibles. And getting a home loan felt like a super-human feat. Our closing process took nearly two months, and almost didn’t happen basically because we both have our own business and don’t work for the man, which is silly because these days working for a big company is no guarantee of job security and a consistent paycheck anyhow.

In the end, we did close a loan on the house. Once the disbelief that it actually happened faded, excitement and relief took over. Buying a home is an emotionally trying process with ideas of self worth tied into it and annoying thoughts like, “But I should be able to buy a home! We are stable earners in our 40s with excellent credit.” Frustrating feelings that cause marital distress that I’m happy we are through with… at least until the next move (which I’ve vowed will be at least eight years from now, when the girls are through high school).

The long, trying mortgage approval process, like most difficult experiences, had a silver lining: gratitude.

I’m thankful that, after five years of renting, I will have a space of my own again. I’m itching to nest. Put up art and put down roots. Maybe get those chickens we have been talking about, even given names to, since the girls were toddlers. The house may be plain, but that means it’s a blank slate that can be made special.

And while it may not be the house I’ve fantasized about, it is the home of my dreams.

(gift)wrapped up

Each holiday season I brainstorm ideas for Christmas gift wrapping. A few years ago I wrapped gifts using kraft paper and stamps, which was tactile and festive. This year, I’m not sure yet what I’ll do. I’ve been collecting pine cones and evergreen twigs… maybe something will materialize out of them. I’ve seen many cool and beautiful wrapping ideas {READ MORE}

Nawlins

I recently returned from a graphic design conference in New Orleans. What a gritty, smelly, inspiring, beautiful city! And people are super friendly. I’m so glad I got a chance to go there. Old meets new in New Orleans—in architecture, tourism and music. My favorite places were the Little Flea Nola, Magazine Street, the cemeteries, Cochon Restaurant and Mardi {READ MORE}

The Uninspired Designer

I just got back from a graphic design conference. The conference was titled, “Revival.” That is exactly how I feel after four days of rousing talks, spirited roundtable discussions, and a lack of immediate client demands: refreshed, renewed, revived. While at the conference, a client inadvertently sent me a long email thread in which she said I was “uninspired.” While {READ MORE}

egg shell herb starts

While it has been a warm winter and early spring out west, in the northeast we’ve suffered a cold, long winter. But the sun is finally shining and the birds are singing their sweet songs. Hello, Spring! Now that temps are consistently above 40 degrees and the fear of frost is over, it’s time to {READ MORE}

easter egg tree

Happy Easter! I made glitter eggs in anticipation of the Easter holiday. I considered the best way to display these sparkly puppies… a cylindrical glass vase or a low-rimmed bowl would work. But I was inspired by a friend’s “egg tree” and decided that was definitely the way to go. If you’re hanging around feeling jittery after eating your kid’s {READ MORE}

glitter easter eggs

Our Easter tradition is to visit my family in California. Northern California is spectacular in the spring. The verdant hills glow with new growth and smell like luscious damp dew in the mornings. The temperature (low 70s) feels perfect. And I don’t have to cook anything while there except egg salad for Easter lunch. Yum! My girls and I haven’t {READ MORE}

wreath evolution

Growing up, my mom had a little cave-like space off the garage that she used to create wreaths and sprays (non-circular wreaths, basically). She spent hours at a time messing around with dried plants, her clippers, metal wire and a hot glue gun. My mom and a couple of lady friends would put on an annual holiday “boutique” {READ MORE}

spoon butter

I got a fancy new Montana-shaped cutting board from my man for Xmas. I love it, but the wood seemed a bit dry and vulnerable to the kitchen elements. So I did a little research and found a recipe for spoon oil. Spoon oil (or spoon butter) is a mixture of beeswax and mineral oil used to treat and {READ MORE}

resolutions

My New Year’s resolution is to wash my face every night. Just kidding. My New Year’s resolution is to be brave. I don’t mean cliff diving/rock climbing/swimming with sharks brave; I mean internally brave. Vulnerable. Living in NYC has made my outer shell even more thick and crusty than before. This place hardens you to the {READ MORE}