Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Good Reads

I love I thoroughly enjoy keeping track of what books I'm reading or have read. And I've been gaining a list of books I would like to read by checking everyone else's sites. So, if you haven't checked this thang out, you should, especially if you enjoy reading and reviewing books. It makes me all smiley to finish a book and be able to change it on my site to 'read' instead of 'currently reading', then I can pick out a new one! It's the small things in life that make all the difference. :)

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Back to the drawing board

The condo is not going through. Which is almost a relief to us in a way. We were afraid that we were going to run into problems that would make the place hard to sell in the future. So, I feel good about walking away from it and finding a place a little more ready for move in without spending lots of money.
I never realized how emotional the house buying process is. It's crazy! #1 rule, never fall in love with a place, because inevitably, a deal will fall through. I did not fall in love with this last place, but there was a condo we saw a few weeks ago that I really, really like and agonized over. It sold before we could even offer on it and it took me a few days to get over it.
I will keep you posted on how our search #2 goes. :)

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

buying a condo

John and I have been looking into buying a condo for the past few months. We picked up our looking more after we got back from California a few weeks ago. It's been really interesting trying to find a place that fits out needs. There are a few basic things that we need. I am a piano teacher as most of you know, and I need to have space for a piano in the place. This is a problem with a lot of standard condos and townhouses that are in most complexes because the living space usually isn't big enough to accomodate a piano teaching area, and a waiting area as well. Also, we need to have guaranteed parking for my students each week so our own driveway would be ideal. These requirements limit us to more 'house like' condos or single family houses in general.
We have been looking at condos and houses in Lowell. Most of them in our price range have been pretty run down, although we've found a few that had potential.
A few days ago I went with Carol (our realtor) to see a condo that turned out to have most all of what we're looking for in a place. It has a lot of living space on the first floor, and even a separate room that could be used as a studio for my piano lessons. It has its own driveway, and a shared backyard. We got all excited, showed our parents, and placed an offer. We negotiated a good price with the owner, and accepted. We just had the place inspected, and to our dismay, it has some serious issues, there is work on the foundation that needs to be done, the chimney needs to be replaced or fixed, there is a problem with the gas line, and a few other things. Basically, these things we would not want to do ourselves because it would be way too costly and it's hard to tell if a few other things are going to need fixing just a few years after we get the place. This puts a serious damper on the resale value unless we put some work into the place. So, John and I need to decide if we walk away, or renegotiate for the owner to fix all the issues before we buy. Ahhhh!
I've decided that being a grown up is overated. :)

I will keep you posted on what we decide, but don't be surprised if you hear about us resuming our search for a home. Decisions, decisions.....

Monday, July 16, 2007

Back from Vacation :)

So John and I got back from the west coast this past Tuesday. We had a few days back to do some laundry, make sure my plants were okay, work a bit... Then, on Friday, we went camping for just a night, followed by a weekend in Amherst at our friends Gary and Elise's wedding. We've had a busy few weeks!
CA was AWESOME. We spent two nights in Santa Monica (just outside of LA). It was a pretty, beachy town, which gave John and I two days on the beach to get ourselves in vacation mode. I love going to the beach, so I thoroughly enjoyed seeing some west coast beach culture for the first time. While in Santa Monica, we visited Hollywood (more entertaining than I thought it would be), Beverly Hills (big, beautiful houses and lots of palm trees!), and downtown LA (not much there). It was neat to just get to see the LA area. We stayed at a Double Tree hotel about 3 blocks from the beach. We were just far enough from the water, that it wasn't wicked expensive.
Next we spent a whole day driving route 1, all the way up the coast to San Francisco. We stopped at a few lovely towns along the way, Santa Barbara being my favorite. Santa Barbara was far enough south to be able to fully enjoy the beach and water, and it was beautiful! Quaint little hotels, beautiful, tall palm trees, mountains in the distance, the beach... It was very pretty! John and I said that we would want to vacation there if it wasn't so freaking expensive to fly to CA. :) After beautiful Santa Barbara, we still had a LONG way to go. All in all, it took us 12 hours to make it to our hotel (doorstep to doorstep, including our stops). We passed through mountains, valleys, lots of farmland, beaches, winding roads on cliffs, forests, traffic, everything! I was glad that I made the trip, getting to see how diverse God has made our creation was a sight to see! I took tons of pictures on the trip of the scenery. I became pretty good at timing pictures in the car after awhile, although I still had lots of shots of bushes and road signs where the timing was a little off. :)
Once in San Francisco, the weather was much different. 60's. cloudy. I ended up wearing all my long sleeve shirts all the time while we were there because I didn't pack enough (even though Marie gave me lots of warnings!). We did TONS while we were there!
-Ride in a cable car
-Go to the Pier touristy area
-Ride bikes over the golden gate bridge!!!!!! I have to write about this one because it was one of my favorite things that we did the whole trip. The bridge was in a huge cloud of fog, but we went over anyway. :) It was a blast and I highly recommend it to anyone going to be in San Francisco looking around. After we went across the bridge, we biked down to a town called Saulselito, a cute, bay town that has pretty water views, and quaint restaurants and art shops. We had lunch there, and then took a ferry with our bikes back to San Francisco. It was a really fun day!
-See Union sqaure
-Go to Chinatown
-See the Japanese Tea Gardens
-See Little Italy
-See the 'Painted ladies'. I liked doing this a lot too. The painted ladies are those pretty houses you see at the beginning of the show "full house". A great view of downtown SF is in the background, and you'll love the houses if you like victorian architecture. We took some good pics of them, it was sunny when we stopped by!
We took two day trips as well. The first was to Napa valley- wine country! We toured the V. Sattui winery, tasted some of there wines, and had a picnic lunch of bread/cheese and grapes there. It was fabulous! I loved it! The tour was neat because there were only a few people on it so it was very personal and I learned a lot about wine. :)
Our last day there, we went to the Monteray Bay Aquarium in Monteray.

Oh, and I need to tell you about our hotel because it was fabulous. We stayed at the Golden Gate Hotel ( It's a little place in the Nob Hill neighborhood of SF with a slight victorian style. There are 20-something rooms in the place, and you get a wonderful breakfast each morning of coffee/oj and really good croissants. I was in heaven hehe. The rooms were quaint and homey, you didn't feel like you were in a city! Also, just to make things even beter, there was pip, that cat, who owned the place and was really cute. :)

We had quite a full week! It was fun, and relaxing to be away. Now that I've told you about what we did and saw, I'll have to talk to you later about my running thoughts on life currently. I'll have to save that for another post, however.

Monday, July 2, 2007

vacation time

So, we're leaving tomorrow for LA for a week-long stay in California. We'll be staying over the fourth of July in Santa Monica, then driving up the coast to San Francisco to see the sights. I am really excited about this trip for a few reasons; the first one being new sights and places. When I am in a different part of the country or world, I tend to people-watch a lot more than if I was just in Massachusetts. The scenery all of a sudden stands out more, the architecture is more noticeable, and so are the people. I really enjoy seeing how people live in other places. It just stands out to me so much, how creative God is when I see people living lives in so many different ways. He made us all different, he made us creative in His own image, which in turn allows us to have different ways to live, think, and design our lives. I just smile when I think about all the variety we have on earth, and it's just so humbling to realize you are quite a little nothing compared to the vastness of our world. Helps a lot with my prideful "I am the center of the world" ideas that unconsciously creep into my thoughts with each step I take. I believe that if you allow God to take your mind away from yourself and focus it on the world, it has the power to seriously open your eyes to His thoughts and desires for not only yourself, but for others. So, vacation tends to have that effect on me.
I really try to use traveling time as reflective time for myself, not only for John and I and our relationship, but for my own thoughts, actions and general life choices as well. When we go away, I can take a step back and think about my life much more easily than if I was in the muck of it. I like to keep a journal, hopefully I'll be good about it this time. I'm thinking about doing a daily post of our journey, so MAYBE you'll get to ready a little bit as we go.
I think everyone should experience the stress-reducing power of getting away. Whether it's going somewhere fun for the day, or a week, it's can be such a rejuvinating time (at least for me). It's also just exciting and fun!!!! :)
Okay, time to pack.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Relating to God

Our sermon at church on Sunday was about the different ways that we, as humans, relate to God. There is a little 'quiz' that is supposed to help you figure out how you relate (or just confirm suspicions in my case). So, I took the quiz and this is what I am:

1. Caregiver (draws near to God through caring and serving others)
2. Naturalist (draws near to God through nature)
3. Contemplative (draws near to God through heartfelt adoration and worship)

I was talking to John the other day about what my type might be, and all of these came up. Some people might feel boxed in by taking a little quiz like this, but I actually liked it because it helped me confirm in my mind ways that God made me. I think I'm learning to appreciate how I'm made instead of judging my downfalls. I'm feeling free to just worship God how I relate to him instead of trying to fit myself in another category. It's a very freeing thing. :)
Some other categories there were to choose from were:

Sensate (worship God through the senses)
Enthusiast (worship and celebration)
Traditionalist (ritual and symbol)
Ascetics (solitude and simplicity)
Activist (social change)
Intellectual (mind)

If you are interested in the quiz, go to and you'll find it under 'sermon series'. It was very encouraging for me, maybe it will be for you too! :)

Sunday, June 10, 2007

identity crisis

I've felt very confused lately with what we (John and I) should be doing with our lives. I'm in a job 'transition' right now, and John is wondering how long he should be in his job at all. Jobs, School, houses, condos, cars, and locations are all things we think about a lot. My question is, with all the options most American's have now a'days when it comes to lifestyle, what do you choose? How do you know what's best for you? I feel torn between wanting things 'perfect' and just choosing to do the right thing day after day. Maybe I'm complicating things, and maybe this is something that many 20 and 30 something's go through in 2007. I know God has a plan for us. Choosing to trust Him instead of my own (obviously brilliant) mind is so hard. All the time I think that I can rule my own life, that's what we're taught in this world, right? Maybe patience is the best thing for me right now. Patience and prayer. Surrender to God with every step and every decision.
Living in the moment is so important and I find myself wasting away thinking about the 'greener grass'. Guess I should stop writing and go live in the moment right now! :)

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Writer's block

Hi All,

Well, this is my very first blog. I've always been a big fan of writing and journaling, I have many journals and diary's, I got my first when I was 6 and wrote in it faithfully for about two weeks straight. I picked it back up when I was 7 or 8 (and had more attention span) and was done with the book by the time I was maybe 9. I think it would be funny to post an excerpt or two from that first diary, it's pretty funny. So anyway, I have a box of maybe two dozen journals filled with stuff. Lately, I have drifted away from journals (it's taken me a year and a half to get through one book, which is a long time for me). This blog is my attempt to get back into writing my thoughts, concerns and ideas. :) We'll see if I can stick it out!