new year, new house

I never thought buying a house in Montgomery County, Maryland would ever be possible.  Like ever.  Home prices around the metro DC area are RIDICULOUS.

I posted a status on Facebook during the summer, genuinely seeking advice from people in the DC area on HOW they are able to buy houses.  Even if I had a full-time job in addition to Matt’s income, I still had a hard time seeing how it could be possible.  Were people winning the lotto?  Cashing in a sizable inheritance from a long-lost uncle?  Connections to the mafia?

A theatre friend that I had worked with a few years back saw my Facebook post and sent me a message.  She lives on the Virginia side of DC and told me that the only way that she was able to afford a house was through the Virginia Affordable Housing Program and that I should see if Maryland had a similar program.

We had heard about the first-time homebuyer’s program in Montgomery County but didn’t know if we qualified or what it entailed.  So that night when I got home from rehearsal, we looked into it.  It was an amazing program for first-time homebuyers who had just low enough of an income to qualify (by MoCo standards) but still made enough money to handle a decent sized mortgage.  And we barely qualified.  HALLELU!

The program required taking a 3-hour First Time Homebuyers class, another 2-hour class about the program, obtaining a loan pre-approval letter from a lender and attending a final meeting, which then qualifies you to get a “lottery number.”

Basically, if a builder is building a new community in MoCo and plans to build 30+ units, a certain percentage has to be sold through this program.  The units that are set aside for the program do not have all the bells and whistles that the regularly priced units do.  They have white carpet, builder-grade cabinets, regular ol’ countertops.  None of the fancy hardwood floors, granite counters, nice cabinetry that you would see in the standard homes.  But after you buy it, it’s yours, and upgrades come in due time.  And you know I love a project.

Some people are in the system for years and never win the “lottery”, but for some reason, the stars aligned, and we were chosen on our first attempt.  It was overwhelmingly exciting and scary at the same time.  We had to come up with cash for a deposit and then closing costs, make sure the dates worked out with ending our lease, secure movers, all while still driving to Maine for Christmas the week before the move.

So here we are, Sunday, December 29th.  We drove 14 hours home from Maine yesterday.  I’m dropping Kevin off with my mom today.  Matt and I are spending the rest of the day today cleaning and finishing packing.  Then the movers come tomorrow morning.  Hopefully by the time Kevin comes home Wednesday evening, the house will be relatively unpacked and set up, blinds installed and baby gates in (two flights of stairs are no joke with a toddler).

We’re really excited and blessed to start 2014 in a new home.  OUR new home.  Let the wall-painting commence!

house front

the big thirty.

When I was younger, high school into college, and I pictured myself at 30, I saw two different scenarios:

1.) Married with a couple of kids.  House with a white picket fence.  A dog.  Financially secure.  Doing theatre.  Loving life.

2.) Living in NYC.  Broadway STAR.

Okay.  So it didn’t *quite* turn out like that.  But I will say, looking at where I am right now, I couldn’t be happier.  And turning 30 ain’t so bad.

I’m married to my college sweetheart (4 years in February!).  I have an amazing 2-year-old son who is independent, damn smart, funny, and cuter than any other child on the face of the earth (sorry not sorry).  I am able to do theatre and work with people I love, respect and adore, in a city I love.  My family is incredible.  My in-laws are the best.  My friends are beautiful and amazing.  My cat is a bitch, but she’s pretty.

But the best part about my birthday?  Mark your calendars because December 20, 2013 doesn’t just represent my third decade birthday.  It represents the day we became homeowners.  That’s right.  You heard it here, folks.  Matt and I bought a house.  Today.

IMG_1080

WHAT?

Kev was a HUGE help taking measurements of windows and things during the inspection…

IMG_1038IMG_1040

 

And at Lowe’s when we needed to pick up a shower curtain rod…

IMG_1042

And who can resist this view from the master bedroom side of the house?

IMG_1035

And the abundance of deer who frequent the neighborhood?

IMG_1079

 

Oh, and Matt won his fantasy football league, and you know what he did with the winnings?  Bought me a beautiful, fancy watch that I’ve been drooling over for almost two years.  Yep.  That’s right.  He’s the best, and he’s all mine.

And next week, we’ll be in Maine celebrating Christmas with my wonderful family, and I can’t wait.

So much to be thankful for in this, my 30th year.

DIY makeup brush roll

We’re traveling a lot this holiday season (as every holiday season for us).  Matt’s family is in Ohio, and I have family in Maine and California.  Unfortunately, we can only go places driving distance (flying is expensive, y’all), so we switch off Ohio/Maine every Thanksgiving/Christmas.

This year, we’re going to Ohio for Thanksgiving and Maine for Christmas, and I couldn’t be more excited.  With so many things going on right now, it’ll be nice to get away and hang out with family.

I try to be as efficient and organized when I pack for trips as possible.  I usually bring a fairly large suitcase and use it for both mine and Kevin’s stuff.  This year, I wanted to take my organization/neatness a step further and invest in a makeup brush roll, to keep everything clean and together.  You use makeup brushes to apply face makeup, so it’s important to keep them as clean as possible, not to mention you don’t want them to get ruined rustling around in your bag somewhere.

But they can be expensive, starting at about $15, which is more than I want to pay for one.  Also, we’re on a strict budget, and that’s a good portion of my monthly “personal money,” so I thought I would whip one up on the cheap.

I grabbed an old, dingy (but clean!) hand towel, got out the ol’ sewing machine, some straight pins, and went to town.

IMG_0833

Aww, just look at these homeless brushes.

IMG_0834

Spacing them out.

IMG_0837

Sections sewn!

IMG_0838

A little foldy-poo to keep the brushes neat and clean.

IMG_0839

Makeup Brush Burrito!

There wasn’t really a method to the madness.  I just eye-balled it.  No measuring.  No careful consideration.  I just needed something quick and practical.

So, there you have it.  An easy, functional makeup brush roll out of something you already have.  I love repurposing and making something I need for free.  It’s a glorious feeling!

standardized kevin

For two days earlier this week, Kevin and I worked as “Standardized Patients” on the Forest Glen military base.  Basically, they look for actors or anyone really, I guess, who is interested in some fairly easy money, who are willing to act as “patients” for military medical students, so that they can do practice exams on patients.

And it’s not just for moms and babies.  We were just the pediatric side of things.  There are all sorts of adults walking around in hospital gowns, usually texting or perusing Facebook on their phones, waiting for their next doctor “encounter.”

Luckily, they set the pediatric “patients” up in a separate conference room (not the Standardized Patient Lounge), so that the babies would have more room to play/walk around/explore.  For the afternoon session (12:00-about 4:30), there are four parent/baby sets.  Basically, there are two exam rooms, and the encounters take about 20 minutes each.  So, me/Kev and another mommy/baby might have encounters at 12:30/1:30/2:30/3:30, and the other two parents/babies would be 1:00/2:00/3:00/4:00.

The parents have a specific case to memorize with certain concerns: child proofing, spouse being deployed, speech development, etc, and we are only to express those concerns if the doc elicits them.  It’s really a great job for actors.  Keeps you on your toes.  And it’s definitely a new experience every time.

I was so surprised how different each encounter was over the two days.  We had eight total, and every doc was completely different.  Of course, the exams were pretty standard.  Just your basic well-child visit.  But the way they performed the exams, the way they each interacted with Kevin, completely different.  From their body language with him to reacting to his screaming fits at times, climbing on the rolly doc chair, reaching for their stethoscopes.  It was really interesting.

After each encounter, we would head back to the holding room where I would have to fill out an evaluation on each trainee.

They were two exhausting days, but so worth it.  Fairly easy money, something I can do with Kevin, he gets to socially interact with other kids, and it keeps him away from the TV.  Granted, he didn’t get a nap for those two days, and he was begging for one, but it was definitely worthwhile.

I wish I had started doing this much earlier with Kev, but I didn’t really know anything about it.  I think it would have helped with my Postpartum Depression earlier on by getting me out of the apartment and interacting with other mothers (and making some extra cash).

This Cowboy was pumped to start Day 2!

1461184_10100700073574163_2138063509_n

Aldi Seasonal Food

Since Matt and I started our strict monthly budget, I have been making the hike to the closest Aldi a couple times a month to stock up on staples and get the most bang out of our grocery budget buck.

And to my extreme delight, this month, the aisles were filled with seasonal staples PLUS some fun seasonally inspired extras!  I picked up a few things to try on my first of the month trip.  But then I came across a $10 off $40+ coupon and had to go back today and stock up before these amazing treats disappeared for an entire year.

Kev. Was. PUMPED.

IMG_0750

 

The first thing I found were these frozen Pumpkin Raviolis.  I mean, are you kidding me?

IMG_0754

 

Which would be AMAZING with this Butternut Squash pasta sauce.  I’m just sayin..

image

And, of course, I can’t live without my Pumpkin Spice Coffee/Pumpkin Spice Creamer combo on chilly Autumn mornings.  See what I did there?

IMG_0756

It’s also a GREAT time to stock up on canned items/non-perishables like CANNED PUMPKIN (which I like to add to everything, mostly plain Greek yogurt, muffins and cake).  And I didn’t want to forget to mention the Pumpkin Pie Yogurt!

IMG_0759

 

But the holy grail.  Ready for it?  SEASONAL SALSA!  The first trip, I just picked up the Sassy Apple salsa.  I didn’t even see the others!  And it was SO GOOD that I vowed to pick up at least two more.  Which I did.  But I also picked up Spiced Pumpkin AND Sweet Potato & Cranberry!  WHAT!

IMG_0757

So if you’re a Fall seasonal food lover like me, you HAVE TO jump in your car right now and drive safely to your nearest Aldi.

Happy Food Shopping!

the last 10 years

See what I did with that title?  No?  Well, it was dumb anyway.

It occurred to me a couple days ago that it’s been about 10.5 years since Matt and I started dating.  TEN YEARS.  Like, a decade.

So, let’s get sappy.

july 2003

July 2003. Literally the month we started dating. Matt came to see me in Annie Get your Gun with Huntington Outdoor Theatre.

xmas carol 2005

December 2005. Marshall University’s production of A Christmas Carol. Matt as Bob Cratchit. Autumn as Fan/Julia/whoever else I was.

sharkey's 2005

2005. At our favorite college karaoke joint, Sharkey’s. Every Tuesday night!

2006

2006. At a bar? Party? Strip club? No one can be sure. But we’re babies.

charleston 2008 - 2

2008. Matt visiting me in Charleston, SC.

CUA grad 2009

2009. Matt graduates from Catholic University with his MFA in Acting. So proud.

wedding day 2010

February 26, 2010. We got hitched. Sensible courthouse ceremony followed by lunch at the brewery next door.

honeymoon - august 2010

August 2010. Honeymoon in Staunton, VA.

wax museum - may 2011

May 2011. Madame Tussauds Wax Museum in DC. I was a few months pregnant.

born wicked signing - 2012

February 2012. Born Wicked release party with friend and author, Jessica Spotswood. Kev was about 5 months old.

HH 2013

April 2013. Helen Hayes Awards at the Warner Theatre in Washington, DC.

2013

September 2013. Quick trip to Philly.

My how we’ve grown aged.

It baffles me how many changes, experiences, good times, bad times, rough times, awkward times, we’ve been through together.  Ten years is a long time, y’all.

pumpkin painting!

Every year I carve a pumpkin.  And every year it molds within a week.  And I’m sick of it.  I’ve seen all these amazing pins on Pinterest for finger painting pumpkins, spray painting, and lots of other creative ways to decorate without actually cutting.

We don’t really decorate for any holidays, mostly because we live in an apartment with limited storage space, decorations cost money and we’re on a budget, and we really don’t have time, to be very honest.  Also, you have to clean that stuff up after the holiday, and the thought of that is exhausting.  When Kev gets older (assuming we’re home for any holidays) I’m sure I’ll get better about it.

But for this year, I spent $6 of my budgeted spending money on a pumpkin because every kid (and mama) needs one.  But I didn’t want it to mold right away, so I thought finger painting would be the best route, and it would be a fun project for Kev.  So we grabbed some finger paints from Target (thank you, birthday gift cards!), threw on a smock and went to town!

IMG_0601

The first thing I did was use painter’s tape to tape out “KEV” on the front of the pumpkin.

IMG_0604

Then I let Kev go nuts with a sponge brush (and subsequently his hands), painting away.  Yes.  It looks like a hot mess, but it’s very Halloween-y.

IMG_0613IMG_0626IMG_0622IMG_0641

So now, our home is appropriately decorated with a sweet, DIY hand-painted pumpkin, made with love by Kev ❤

IMG_0646

Oh, and if you missed this gem on Facebook, Matt and I took Kevin to the Kidville Bethesda Halloween Party, and we managed to get a semi-decent family photo!

IMG_0481

 

Time to watch It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!  Tis the season!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!