Let’s Do Coffee

I figured we could take a minute to catch up on what’s been going on for the last few months. What do you say?

If you and I were to sit down to coffee today, I’d apologize that it’s been so long. As a result I’ve got a lot to tell you about! If you’ve been following the blog (and I know you have), you know all about the purchase and renovation of the Mulberry House that occupied much of the second half of last year – so I won’t get into that.

I’d tell you that I also spent some time working as a census worker and some time working as a poll worker for the 2020 elections (and early voting). And more recently I worked a number of shifts at a vaccine clinic.

I’d then ask how your work life going? Are you staying busy? Actually I should also mention that I ended up taking the real estate licensing exam towards the end of the last year (on the literal last day that I was still qualified to take it). And I passed, and then took the post licensing classes online early in the year. In May, I started working as an Associate Agent for Redfin, which basically means I get to show people houses, attend inspections, host open houses, and do occasional deliveries of things such as keys, brochures, checks – but I don’t have to do any marketing or paperwork or worry about being available 24/7. It’s been cool.

You’d say you’re excited for me and wouldn’t ask me what my next step is because you know me well enough to know I have no idea. And then you’d suggest we grab a coffee before talking more.

I’d think that’s a great idea – clearly it’s been too long since I’ve been to a coffee shop and forget that you have to go to the counter if you want some actual coffee!

I’d then jump in to telling you about how much travelling we’ve actually being doing this year. In February, we rented a house in Miami for two weeks. We just drove down there with Spritz! and lived our normal pandemic life working from home with more sunshine. And then at the end of June we took advantage of the massive lull in coronavirus cases and we took off on a road trip through New England followed by flying out to San Francisco and doing a second road trip up to Seattle.

You’d ask if I have pictures and show you a few with the promise of sharing more details later.

You’d ask how we were able to take such a long trip and I’d tell you that Andrew got a new job but had over 30 days of vacation from his old job to use up before starting the new one. His new office is an easy walk from our house and he’s super excited about what he’ll be able to learn at the new company. You’d tell me to wish him good luck with the new job.

You’re such a good listener so you’d ask how things are going with my condo. And I’d thank you for asking! My last tenants moved out at the end of December and I decided that I’d rather sell it than continue to rent it out. After doing some cleaning and painting and basic maintenance and basic staging, we were able to get it on the market at the end of January. The real estate market around here has been crazy with houses selling in a matter of days, often sight unseen, for 20% over market value. Unfortunately that was not the case with my downtown high-rise condo. It did finally sell – we closed just last week – but for a little under asking, not over. But I’m really happy to finally have it off my plate.

Then I’d glance at the time on my phone and notice that I have spent way too much time talking about myself—yet again. I’m the worst. Can we make a date to get back together soon? I’d love to try out some new recipes on you! I promise to talk less about myself. Love you!

Let’s Do Coffee

I figured we could take a minute to catch up on what’s been going on for the last few months. What do you say?

If you and I were to sit down to coffee today, it’d be over Google Hangouts or Zoom again. I’m super bored of social distancing and would love to meet in person, but unfortunately, I’m still really struggling with breathing while wearing a mask so, if we met in person, it would have to be 10 minutes max and I’d probably be preoccupied with breathing.

I’d tell you that the recent protests have given us reason to leave the house, which is super exciting. Andrew participated in a few of them but I couldn’t because of my mask wearing issues. I did often observe from afar – I was a block away when protesters managed to remove a couple confederate statues from the capital grounds and hang them from a nearby light post. But we’ve also done almost daily walks to see what kind of new damage and repairs have been done everyday.

And then I’d apologize that I haven’t even asked how you’ve been. Are you still completely isolating at home? It’s hard to even imagine how everything is impacting people with different circumstances than me. Like trying to work a full time job at home while also keeping multiple little people alive and ideally thriving. Or like being a person of colour in a world that seems to have just realized that’s a thing. Or being a downtown bar owner that had their business shut down since March and now has a pile of broken boarded up windows and no clue if or when they’re ever going to be able to reopen. Or being an older person living in a nursing home just waiting for a covid outbreak to take over their facility. Meanwhile I’m just irritated I found $377 flights to Tokyo that I can’t buy because I don’t know when it’s going to be adequately safe to travel.

You’d try to reassure me that I’m allowed to be upset and that my complaints aren’t any less valid than anyone else’s.

I’ll groan and say yeah, sure. And in an attempt to change the subject, I’ll suggest we pause to grab some coffee. This is a coffee date after all! I’ll mix some cream of coconut and chocolate powder with some cold brew and a little oat milk to make an oh-so-refreshing and creamy iced coffee.

I ask you if you remember me telling you about my plan to train as a real estate appraiser? And the real estate broker pre-licensing class I was taking? Well, I finished the class online, and passed with flying colours. I was hoping to take the licensing exam to become provisionally licensed, which would allow me to take some post-licensing classes, hopefully also online. But unfortunately, my pathetic breathing skills have kept me from attempting the licensing exam which would have to be taken at a testing center.

I’d ask you how things have been with your work? Are you still happy with what you’re doing? A (huge) part of me is now regretting quitting my job, but I am just so much happier having done it, despite feeling like I currently have no purpose in life.

You’re such a good listener so you’d ask how things are going with our house. And I’d tell you that the yard is looking pretty great, the garden is productive, and we’ve been loving spending time outside, despite the increasing summer heat. I finally submitted my COA application to install a front walkway and shed in the backyard and am hoping to hear back by next week. We’re also waiting for a quote for a new metal roof. Other than that, not much is going on but we’re still loving the house. I did come up with some DIY table ideas (dining room and coffee) that I’ll tell you more about after I get them done.

You’d tell me you’re already looking forward to Canadian Thanksgiving at the new dinning room table. Hopefully we’re able to get together safely by then!

I tell you I sure hope so because, while I appreciate the option of doing virtual birthday parties, dance recitals, and beer tastings, and have enjoyed our day trips to Wilson, Rocky Mount, and Durham, I’m definitely missing the bigger world. I miss getting to hug you.

Then I’d glance at the time on my computer and notice that I have spent way too much time talking about myself—yet again. I’m the worst. Can we make a date to get back together when things are a little more normal? Maybe we could have a campfire. I promise to talk less about myself. Love you!

Let’s Do Coffee

I figured we could take a minute to catch up on what’s been going on for the last few months. What do you say?

If you and I were to sit down to coffee today, it’d be over Google Hangouts or Zoom. I’m trying really hard to do my part in preventing the spread of Covid-19. For me this means staying home other than going for runs where I will awkwardly cross the street to avoid coming within 10 feet of people. I don’t think they’re offended, because when I’m running, I definitely look and sound like I’ve got a scary respiratory illness that they don’t want to catch.

I’d tell you that either Andrew or I have been going to the grocery store maybe once a week and we’ve started to get takeout once or twice a week. We could definitely go without doing either of those for probably at least a month, but I really like to have some fresh fruit and veggies rather than relying entirely on frozen and pantry items. As far as takeout, I honestly wish we had started doing that sooner or more often because several of my favorite restaurants have ultimately decided that it doesn’t make financial sense for them to remain open and I’ll be hella sad if they aren’t able to re-open when this is all over.

And then I’d apologize that I haven’t even asked how this has been affecting you. It’s not that I don’t care, it’s just that I’ve forgotten how to interact with humans. Even lovely ones like you. This is such a weird time that we live in, isn’t it?

Social Distancing

You’d suggest that we play some sort of game to get our minds off of all of this but I’d tell you that I’d honestly rather just hear about what’s going on in your life.

I’d step away from my computer while you’re updating me – don’t worry, I can still hear you – but I need to pour myself a second cup of cold brew. I can’t believe it’s cold brew weather already!

Back in January, I was running the fireplace non-stop while trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life, not to be too dramatic. I had just quit my full time job at the end of December and felt that I needed a break from the nutrition world even though I was once freakishly passionate about it. I tell you that there was a lot telling me I should do something with my interest in houses, especially old houses. I was intrigued by real estate and after a little research, I learned that becoming a real estate agent involved a relatively small investment of time and money. I wasn’t sure I’d be horribly good at the sales part of being a real estate agent though. But it occurred to me that I could be really good at and really enjoy working as a real estate appraiser. So I tell you that I did a little research into that and found out that the investment would be a little bigger, though mostly in terms of time, but that I thought it would still be worth it so I signed up for a class to get me started! Since the class I signed up for wouldn’t start for a while, I decided to take a real estate broker pre-licensing class just to learn more and keep me occupied.

But even that class wouldn’t start until after a trip to southern California for a friend’s wedding. Andrew and I spent some time exploring neighborhoods, breweries, and parks in San Diego before heading up to stay with a couple friends at an Airbnb just outside of Joshua Tree National Park. We did a couple easy hikes in the park which was more than enough for Andrew’s still recovering ACL. And we got to catch up with more friends we never see at the wedding in Palm Dessert. I gotta say, I loved our time in the sun and would recommend this area to a friend. Hint, hint.

Not long after this trip, I booked a last minute flight to go hang out with my mom in Barbados for a few days. She and my step dad had already been there for three weeks and seemed to not be hating it. I had to admit that I was moderately concerned about not being able to get home because of the new “Chinese virus” but I guess I was lucky no one was even recommending any preventative measures anywhere in the US for several weeks after I got back.

Barbados

I’d tell you a little about starting my real estate broker classes, finding out that my appraiser classes were cancelled due to inadequate enrollment, and then being worried my broker classes would be cancelled part-way through because the North Carolina Real Estate Commission had a rule that required all classes to be classroom based. Thankfully they met and made a rule that would allow for synchronous online classes so after a two week delay, I’m back to learning. And starting to think I might not actually be terrible at this, if one day there is again a real estate market to work in.

I’d ask you how you’ve been holding up sheltering in place? I’ve honestly been enjoying the slower pace of life that it’s forced on me. I don’t feel bad about having several hours or even an entire day without doing anything I’d call productive. I’m also thankful that we have absolutely perfect weather right now. I’d honestly be pretty annoyed if I had to be at work or something.

You’re such a good listener so you’d ask how our yard is looking. And I’d tell you that I’ve finally tamed it so I’m ready to start making some improvements. Our yard below on the right looked pretty much like the yard on the left when we started, although the invasive trees were no more than about four feet tall at the time. Can you believe how far we’ve come?

Yard

I’m working on putting together my application for the Raleigh Historic Development Commission to install a front walkway and a shed in the backyard, and maybe a couple other things. We also got a new outdoor speaker so we can easily listen to music outside, started setting up the string lights I bought for Andrew months ago, I got a weed-eater! and tomorrow we’re hoping to set up a new fire pit. Oh and check out this picture of the garden. Other than pulling a few weeds, I haven’t touched it since last fall and it’s a friggen bounty of fresh herbs!

Garden

You’d tell me you can’t wait to see it and also that you’re sorry we had to cancel the wedding celebrations. I’d tell you they’re not cancelled, just postponed until…

Then I’d glance down at my watch and notice that I have spent way too much time talking about myself—yet again. I’m the worst. Can we make a date to get back together when things are a little more normal? Maybe we could have a campfire. I promise to talk less about myself. Love you!

Fun Fluff 7

I’m learning how to be a real estate agent! I’ve got a couple interesting reads for you, a new tool I’m seriously loving, and a book I’d like to check out. And some cuteness.

I’ve been busy with real estate pre-licencing classes so not a ton to share this week.

Related to my classes, I have to say do your research before working with a real estate agent and if you decide to work with one, make sure they are working FOR you, not just WITH you.

This article is super dark, but worth the read, IMO. (Medium)

Have you ever thought about why houses these days often have more bathrooms than bedrooms? Did you know that a simple bathroom remodel is actually a cost-effective renovation? This article digs through our history to explain America’s obsession with bathrooms. (The Atlantic)

This is my favourite new tool. Like, I really like it.

I’m hoping I can find this book at the library.

Cute, right?

Have a great weekend!

Let’s Do Coffee

I figured we could take a minute to catch up on what’s been going on for the last few months. What do you say?

If you and I were to sit down to coffee today, I’d start off by apologizing. I’m sorry I haven’t been keeping in touch lately. It’s not that I don’t like you (I do, you’re awesome noodle soup), it’s just that I’ve been busy. The good news is that I quit my full time job so I can focus on other parts of my life. So I’m all yours for the next few minutes.

Then we’d awkwardly hug it out and you’d tell me that you totally understand and start telling me how you can relate to trying to find a good work-life balance. I’d tell you that it feels really good that you get it, that you know I’m trying my best.

I’d offer to buy you a coffee, after all, that’s why we’re here! I’d order a latte because I’ve been enjoying those lately, even though I’ve been a mocha girl for as long as I’ve been willing to drink coffee. As we sip on our warm drinks, you’d ask me how the last few months of my year went. I’d hesitate before answering, not because it wasn’t amazeballs, but because I can never remember what I did even five minutes ago.

Canadian Thanksgiving seemed to come out of nowhere but we hosted a big dinner with friends as I’ve done for the past ten years. The big difference this year was that we had a million walking children so it was super fun and high energy in a whole new way.

Canadian Thanksgiving

At the end of October, we traveled to Ireland for a friend’s destination wedding. While we were in Ireland, we obviously took some time to be tourists, which I’d love to tell you more about when we have more time.

Irish Wedding

But that would remind you that you brought me a belated wedding gift (Awwww, I can’t believe how thoughtful you are – you absolutely didn’t have to get us anything).

Holy cow, how did you know that a Home Depot gift card is exactly what I wanted? Like, nothing makes me happier that getting to be outdoors, doing yard work and making my yard look beautiful, but spending money to buy all the tools makes me feel guilty. Best. Wedding. Gift. Ever. Thank you!

You’d then ask me about my annual cookie party. I’d tell you we had fewer guests than usual but we still had a lot of fun and the competition for World’s Most Creative Cookie was fierce. You should really come next year.

Cookie Party

You’d then ask me if I’d seen any good movies lately. I rarely go to movies, but as it happens, a friend had an extra ticket to see Knives Out at Alamo Drafthouse and it was such a fun movie!

You’d then ask me about work, and I’d tell you that I still haven’t figured it out but I’m excited about the possibilities. I’m leaning toward taking some appraisal classes to see how I like that. I like the idea of getting to meet people and see their homes but then sitting down at a computer to do some research, combining a little imagination with a little math.

You’d tell me good luck and then we’d then move onto everyone’s favorite topic: Christmas presents! You tell me about your plan to surprise your family with tickets to Hawaii instead of physical things this year (oh wow, that sounds so fabulous!). And then I tell you that I’m still a scrooge and haven’t really bought many gifts but kinda wish I could go home for Christmas. Like I actually have no desire to be in Canada in December and don’t really even want to leave my house for the weeks leading up to Christmas, but I do wish I could see my aunties and meet my brand new nephew and niece.

Then I’d glance down at my watch and notice that I have spent way too much time talking about myself—yet again. I’m the worst. Can we make a date to get back together after the holidays? I promise to talk less about myself. Love you!

What is Luxury?

I have a big update to share with you that will impact the future of this blog. I’m also going to define luxury since it is a major part of what and why I write.

Today is my last day driving an hour twice a day to work as a dietitian in an employee health clinic. Three months ago, I walked into my boss’ office and told her I wanted to retire.

No, I’m not really old enough to retire, but I felt that my time at that job had run its course and I was ready to move on. I just didn’t know where. I didn’t have a new job lined up because I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I still don’t know.

I have a Master’s degree in Nutrition and Dietetics and do a ton of reading and professional development. I know my stuff when it comes to nutrition. I’m good with patients. I was good at my job. But I don’t want to do it anymore. At least for now.

If I don’t want to let my 10ish years of education go to waste, there are a ton of different areas of nutrition and dietetics I could work in. I know I don’t want to do patient care or work in food service at the moment but I could get into research, public health, product development, or public relations. Or I could do some more teaching and writing, both of which I loved but didn’t have time to keep up with when I took my full time job.

On the other hand, maybe it’s time to do something completely different. Like maybe I become a real estate agent or appraiser or interior designer or architect. Or I become a travel planner, event planner, or tour guide. Or I become a web developer or project manager. Or I become a mail carrier or … who knows. Am I the only person thinking about doing a complete career u-turn?

I intend to explore a lot of these options and hope to take you along for the ride as I figure out how to maintain my luxury lifestyle.

Google defines luxury as “the state of great comfort and extravagant living”. I checked Merriam-Webster too, but I didn’t like their definition as much.

I also dug this note up while trying to find something else I’d written a couple years ago. I think it summarizes pretty well how I define luxury and I don’t think it contradicts Google’s definition at all.

That, to me, is comfort and extravagance.

So while I try to figure out what I want to do for the rest of my life, I’m planning to post here more regularly, and about more than just the Downtown Luxury Slum. The bullet points in the photo above will likely provide the basis for most of my posts, so expect to see posts about keeping our home cozy, health and wellness, exploring work-life balance, travel, entertaining, and general adventures. I hope you don’t mind.