Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Holidays: stressful or fun?

Don't let that title mislead you too much, but my thoughts this year have really been around how the holiday season seems to be less fun than it used to be...

  • As a kid, Christmas was one of the most anticipated and excited days of the year. All the magic of Santa and family and gifts really built up the joy of the season.
  • There aren't many little kids in my family. Little kids make {almost} everything more fun. Someday there will be more little kids... :)
  • In a serious relationship/marriage, it is difficult/impossible to please both people or both families. We both want to make sure we spend time with our own family as well as each other so that leads us to celebrating Christmas a grand total of SIX times.  
    • You see: my family alone has 3 Christmas celebrations (my mom's side extended family, my dad's side extended family, my immediate family) + Marc's family similarly has 3 Christmas's = 6 Christmas celebrations that will be had this year. That is A LOT of Christmas. Do not for a second think that we don't want to spend time with our families, it is just a lot of traveling, eating, cooking, prepping, celebrating and "Merry Christmas-ing..."
  • Christmas shopping. While I love buying gifts for people and giving them (I am a people pleaser and I like making people happy! Gift giving/receiving makes most people happy!) The less fun side of Christmas shopping for those like myself who waited until 1 week before Christmas to begin are: parking lots, traffic, long lines. Get the picture? Yes I know, this is entirely my own fault for waiting so long... but I have been so preoccupied lately with other of life's happenings.
  • I no longer get a "Christmas Break" of several weeks like I did during school. It's just wrong to think about how I have to go to work on December 26th...
So as to not let this post be a complete holiday downer, here are a few reasons why Christmas is MORE fun than it used to be...
  • This year, we have 2 Christmas trees :) We have a mini tree and a full size tree in our house. I love the smell of them, decorating them, looking at them, snuggling by them .. insert Marc rolling his eyes ;)
  • Now that I am older and make more money, I can buy more useful and cooler gifts for people. Sometimes my frugal self gets in the way, but I try to not let it overwhelm me at this time of year!
  • The Jammie Fairy still visits my house every Christmas Eve. I LOVE the Jammie Fairy!
  • As my family has grown, so has the love that is shared during the holidays. This may sound cheesy, but I am very much a "the more, the merrier" type of person, and now that I have Marc's whole family and my sister-in-law and my sister's boyfriend to celebrate with also, the fun just grows with each person added!
  • Christmas music is the perfect antidote to a long stressful day at work. It is much harder to be unhappy while sitting in traffic for over an hour on the way home from work when I am blasting Christmas music. An entire month of Christmas music is a month of happiness :)
  • I get to have my immediate family over to our house this year on Christmas morning. This year, I am planning some special surprises to spice things up a bit. I'll be sure to post all about the 2012 Baldwin Christmas Games....!
  • Christmas movie marathons on TV. I love the movie ELF. It's hilarious!
Now, I'm off to continue filling my head with Christmas tunes and lights and cookies!

Happy Holiday season to everyone!

Friday, December 14, 2012

9 months til we say "I DO"

I can't believe it, only 9 months to go! This morning when I noticed it was the 14th, I was thinking it was 10 months to go, but after some counting, I realized it's actually only 9 months! I swear I used to be good at math...

Along the lines of wedding planning, this is what we have accomplished so far, surprisingly, Marc has been very involved in ALL of these choices (except for the dress and shoe choice of course!):
  • Chose the venue: Mill Valley Outdoor Art Club
  • Set the date: 9/14/13
  • Chose the caterer: Affair to Remember
  • Decided on our color scheme: navy blue, coral, cream and green (aka the garden!)
  • Purchased my dress: from Glamour Closet in SF
  • Took my dress to my favorite seamstress: she is currently working her magic to make it shrink down a few sizes :)
  • Purchased my shoes: from (they will arrive in the mail today, maybe I'll share a picture of those soon!)
  • Selected our wedding party: 5 bridesmaids and 5 groomsmen
  • "Proposed" to our ring bearer: my cousin's little boy, he'll be almost 3 years old come wedding time
  • "Proposed" to our flower girl: Marc's little cousin, she will be 7 years old come wedding time
  • Chose the music/band: Marc's uncle will play at our ceremony and DJ at the reception
  • Selected our officiant: my uncle will perform our ceremony, he even got ordained online already!
  • Purchased our favors: I ordered them online today at
  • Purchased our invitations: bought them at Michael's on Black Friday, we will print them ourselves
  • Selected a photographer for our engagement photos: my sister and her bf gave this to us as an early wedding gift! We will take the photos in January at a beautiful outdoor location.
  • Made a wedding website: we will share it when it is complete
  • Purchased Marc's wedding ring: got a sweet deal on Black Friday
WOW! When I spell it out like that, it feels like I've done a lot and I don't feel so overwhelmed by everything else that has been going on which has taken me from wedding planning. We still have lots of little things to do, but I'm so glad most of the main stuff is taken care of. Now that I have an entire room in the house to dedicate to wedding planning, let Wine Wedding Wednesdays begin!!

If you check out my "Weddings" Pinterest board, you will get a pretty good idea of what look we are going for! Here is a sneak peak of my favorite color sheme inspiration picture:

274 days to go!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Home Sweet Home

We are officially moved in to our new home. Well, the home isn't new, but it sure is new to us! This weekend was one of the most exhausting, exciting weekends I have ever had. I am so amazed at how much we were able to accomplish in those 3 days (I had Friday off work to allow us to get some extra stuff done at the house before move-in day).

***Be prepared for a very long post.........

Thursday night, we headed over to Lowe's and finalized our paint color choices and bought the paint for our master bedroom, living room, dining room and family room. Then, we stopped by my parents house to borrow their suburban and painting tools in preparation for the painting marathon that would happen the next day.

~ Friday ~

Marc and I woke up early (8am is early for us)! I had a doctor's appointment then I grabbed some coffee and bagels for us on the way home. While I was gone, Marc made about 50 trips to load up my parent's truck with some of our belongings so we could take a load over to the house. By the time I got home, he was ready to go so we just ate our delicious bagels and I changed into my painting clothes and off we went. We arrived at the house at about 11. While Marc unpacked the truck into the garage, I opened all the windows to get some fresh air in the house and started washing the walls in the master bedroom and prepping the room for painting. We took down the blinds, the closet doors, etc. My dad rolled up on his trike (a super cool recumbant trike with a motor assist that he uses to get around town and ride for fun since he doesn't drive) and brought us some putty to fill the holes in the wall. Luckily he called us that morning and said he was headed to Home Depot and asked if we needed anything, he knows us too well! Meanwhile, I made 2 trips to my parents' house for tools and a vacuum. It's less than 2 miles away so it's a short drive. :) We began painting our bedroom a pretty grey-blue color and were hurrying since the carpet cleaners were scheduled to come at 3:00. I was the edger and Marc was the roller, we are a great team and got the room done just in time to clean out the room when the carpet cleaners arrived. My dad even rode his trike down to Wendy's to grab us some lunch which we enjoyed sitting on the floor in the middle of the living room. :)

Painting the master!
 The carpet cleaning really made a big difference, there are a few pet stains in the carpet as the previous owners had 2 small dogs. There are still a few stains that probably won't come out, but we are working on getting the smell out, I can't wait until the house smells like "us." The carpet cleaners were great until they dumped the dirty, gross smelling water out of their vehicle right onto our driveway... that was just rude. Marc said, "That smells nice." and the guy responded with, "You get used to it." Really? I'd rather not get used to the smell of sewer on my driveway, thank you anyways. End of rant.

My dad headed home around 4 to get a few things done then he and my mom came back over and brought dinner (Los Panchos, yum!) and we were back to painting the living room. My parents were a HUGE help! We were able to finish painting the living room, which has vaulted ceilings! and the dining room. We finished up at about 11:30pm so we were all exhausted, but we are so glad we got it done. The living room is a light earthy green color, and the dining room is a medium brown color, it's called Cafe Ole, so that gives you an idea.

Look at those vaulted ceilings in the living room!
We finally got back to our apartment at about midnight where we quickly showered, climbed in bed and fell asleep to rest up quick for the next day.

~ Saturday ~

Marc and I woke up at 7am to finish packing the apartment. We were literally RUNNING all morning to try to finish up and get another load of stuff into the suburban. We met his parents, brother and friend at the house at 10:30. They brought a 20' Uhaul with lots of furniture for us from his Nana's place and from his parents. It is really nice not to have to buy any furniture right off the bat, the house is full and we get to focus on making other small improvements to it instead of buying furniture. Thanks everyone!! Right after we all got there, my sister-in-law arrived to help too. While the boys all began unloading the Uhaul, the girls and I started in on cleaning, or should I say, bleaching the house top to bottom. Shortly after, my sister and her boyfriend arrived, carrying the cutest mini-Christmas tree as our housewarming gift!! We put them straight to work! Within an hour, the Uhaul and suburban were unloaded and the kitchen, bathrooms, linen closet and window sills were all clean and ready to be loaded. Like I said, our families are AMAZING!

Marc and I still had all our big furniture at the apartment that needed to be loaded into the Uhaul and I needed to do a final cleaning of the apartment before our walk-through at 2:00. Again, we were running around like crazy people trying to get it all loaded. I had no idea how much stuff can fit into a 700 sq. ft. apartment.... we filled the Uhaul again! I cleaned much too thoroughly because the property manager just opened one cabinet, the fridge and oven and then glanced at the bathroom and she was done. Did we really need to clean the ceiling fan, microwave filter and scrub on our hands and knees for days?! NO, we did not.

This is when Marc and I said our final goodbye to our first place together. It was a perfect place for us, but after a year and a half, we outgrew it and were ready to take on a new challenge together. We loved our time at Spring Meadow, but we were not exactly sad to say goodbye ;) that place was tiny! 700 sq. ft. is not enough for two strong-willed people, no matter how much love there is! So we closed that chapter and opened a new one on that sunny Saturday afternoon.

While we were gone, I left the rest of the crew at the house to do some more cleaning, line the kitchen shelves, etc. and my mom did a Subway run for everyone. By the time we got home, my mom, Marc's mom and my sister-in-law had completely unpacked our kitchen! Those women can work!!! After lunch, we unloaded the Uhaul from the apartment, Marc's brother and friend put our bed together, my mom raked the leaves, my brother tore out some overgrown plants from our porch area, everyone was busy busy busy all day long. We finally stopped working and ordered Chinese for dinner. Just as it arrived, so did our beautiful refrigerator, washer and dryer!! That fridge is amazing, it's a Samsung with french doors and the freezer on the bottom. Thank God for Black Friday or else we would never have been able to afford that thing!! That experience is a whole post in itself...

My mom and I decorated the mini-Christmas tree and set it up in front of the big window at the front of the house. It immediately makes the place feel like home :) We are going to get a full-sized tree too, but this one is so cute!! Note the mini-rocking chair that Marc's dad snagged from our apartment dumpster, that place was a gold mine for goodies that people didn't want!! It wasn't actually IN the dumpster, people would just leave their unwanted things next to it for the taking. He said it's for "little Elizabeth" someday :) It's a keeper!!

After dinner, Marc's family headed home and mine hung out to watch a movie. We were in bed and asleep by 9:30pm after the longest 2 days of our lives!

~ Sunday ~

After waking up several times to the new house's noises, Marc and I were up for the day around 9. It took us quite a while to find towels and shower stuff... but when we finally did, we discovered the shower had a temperature limit on it.  We toughed it through some luke-warm showers and headed out to Target to pick up a few essentials and some much needed FOOD! Sunday was spent unpacking random boxes of things we would actually use in the next few days. We did lots of laundry which was actually fun to do with our very own washer and dryer. My Grammie came over to see the house and brought us lunch and some homemade blueberry bread. She approved! A big deal if you know my Grammie... Marc and I washed some of the blinds out on the driveway so we could have some privacy at the front of the house at least for the night. Those blinds were so dusty!! And do you know what dust is? Skin. Other people's skin. That just grosses me out so bad we had to take care of it ASAP. My sister came over in the evening to drink some champagne and share some design ideas; she even let me borrow her Domino book, "her life" so I am sworn to protect it with mine!

That basically sums up a crazy busy weekend of moving, fun and excitement. We are SO glad to finally be living in our home and cannot wait for all the memories that are to come. We know we will be living there for a very long time. :)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Packing our lives away!

We are currently packing, packing and more packing! Or should I say, Marc is doing a lot of packing... :) It has been so nice to come home from work to another section of the apartment packed away in boxes. It is much different having his help this time compared to last time when I did most of the packing on my own before we moved in together.

Just one little corner of boxes, this box pile has
tripled in size since I took the picture this weekend!

Our official move-in date is this Friday!!!! December 7th! We are so excited it is literally hard to sleep at night. The house is finally empty from most of the sellers' enormous amounts of belongings.

It is amazing how much stuff people accumulate over the years...I think we have learned we need to do annual purging of our excess stuff that has not been used and either donate it or toss it so we don't end up like "Hoarders."

I hope to remember to take pictures of the house before we put our furniture in so we can see some before and afters and show our progress as we make it our home.

This is going to be a very busy week of packing, moving, painting, unpacking and relentlessly thanking those who are dedicating their weekend to helping us move. Thanks in advance to all of you!!!